North African governments are bolstering plans to increase investment in power, with the demand for electricity likely to skyrocket in the coming years. Renewables feature heavily, while nuclear is under consideration in Egypt and new coal capacity has made an appearance in Morocco.
Morocco's enthusiasm for renewables is largely driven by security concerns - Rabat first began promoting low-carbon technologies a decade ago in an effort to reduce its reliance on hydrocarbon imports; it is the only country in North Africa without significant oil and gas production.
In 2018, hydrocarbons comprised 93% of Morocco's overall energy (rather than generation) mix, but this was still lower than the 98% recorded in 2008. The country spent AED69bn ($7.ogbn) on oil and gas imports in 2017, creating a huge drain on its foreign currency reserves.
However, falling costs and greater investor interest have also played their part in the renewables revolution, as access to financing for such projects has become easier, including donor support and preferential loans from some institutions.
Paddy Padmanathan, Chief Executive of Saudi-based ACWA Power, said his company's latest Moroccan project--the Khalladi windfarm--is "the first transaction in the Kingdom of Morocco which is eligible for RECS [renewable energy certificate system] green credits and has also secured the Gold Standard certification".
However, it's not all about renewables in Morocco. The kingdom's concern over energy security, as much as climate change, was reflected by the completion of the 1.4GW Safi coal-fired plant in December 2018.
EFFICIENCY DRIVE NEEDED
A report on energy efficiency published in April by the Moroccan Centre for Economic Conditions concluded that rising energy demand would challenge the country's ability to sustain power supplies and achieve its renewable energy targets. Said Mouline, Director-General of the National Agency for the Development of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, said that the state should encourage people to reduce their energy consumption because it was already close to the levels of countries that are more industrial and have a far higher GDP per capita. The traditional way of reducing energy consumption--and by far the most obvious--is to increase prices, but Rabat is reluctant to raise regulated power, gas and fuel prices.
It has been successful in attracting private-sector investment in renewable energy projects, with the Moroccan Agency for...