The winds of change in African renewables: energy security and the cost of energy imports have encouraged some governments to enthusiastically embrace renewables.


As the only country in North Africa without significant proven hydrocarbon reserves, Morocco has consistently backed the construction of wind and solar energy projects.

It was the fourth biggest investor in renewable energy in relation to the size of its GDP in the world last year. The government's latest targets aim to boost the proportion of renewables in the generation mix to 42% by 2020 and 52% by 2030, although this does include large hydro.

Between 2021 and 2025, 1,100MW of solar capacity, 1.000MW of wind and 450MW of hydro are due to come on stream.

Perhaps the greatest sign of confidence in the Moroccan wind power sector is Siemens decision to open a turbine factory at Tangier Automotive City next year, including to supply 2.3M W rated turbines to the Tarfaya project. Announcing the project, Siemens Wind CEO Markus Tacke said: "Morocco is the perfect location from which to serve the growing onshore wind power markets in Africa, the Middle East and Europe. The economy is strong, the political climate is stable, and Morocco has a young, skilled and motivated workforce. These factors make Tangier the ideal site for this new state-of-the art factory."

Some of the output will be exported from the nearby port of Tanger Med but Siemens has said that the growth of the local market was critical in its decision to locate the facility in Morocco. A similar factory is to be opened by Siemens in Egypt, which also has a growing wind power sector. Alongside Enel Green Power and Nareva, Siemens is part of the consortium that has been named as the preferred bidder to design, build and operate five wind power projects spread across Morocco with combined capacity of 850MW, under 20-year build, own, operate and transfer contracts.

South African competition

South Africa is vying with Morocco to be the biggest wind power producer in Africa. In February, commenting on the milestone of reaching half a million households, the CEO of the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA), Johan van den Berg, said: "Wind energy is still a relatively new industry in South Africa and what we have achieved in such a short time is a sure indication of how much more we can do. In 2011 there were just ten turbines in the country--now we have 13 large wind farms in operation, consisting of over 495 turbines, with many more under construction."

In October, Enel completed the 88MW Nojoli wind farm in the Eastern Cape. It is the Italian firm's first South African wind power...

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