The Maghreb region offers good conditions for renewable generation and rising domestic gas reserves, but strategies for power sector development across the region differ widely.
The power sector across North Africa region is characterised by innovation and the rapid development of renewables in Morocco and Egypt, and a much slower pace of transition in the countries between them.
Libya's ongoing civil conflict means that the country's two rival governments have other priorities, while both Algeria and Tunisia have been reluctant to deregulate the power sector and encourage private-sector investment. Their state power companies continue to rely on thermal generating capacity and struggle to maintain power supplies.
Morocco is the most ambitious of the Maghreb nations in terms of boosting renewables as a proportion of overall generating capacity. According to the Ministry of Energy, Mining and Sustainable Development, renewables accounted for 35% of Moroccan power production in 2018, suggesting that the country is on track to meet the government's target of 52% by 2030. However, the pace of new capacity additions will have to pick up substantially over the next ll years for the country to cope with projected increases in population and power demand. There is also still some way to go before Morocco reaches its interim target of 42% by the end of 2020. Nevertheless, there is little doubt that these ambitious targets are a powerful motivator for developing renewable energy.
Morocco had 2GW of renewable energy generating capacity by the end of last year, but Rabat forecasts that 10GW will be needed if the 52% target is to be met. This is to be achieved through 4.5GW of solar, 4.2GW of wind and 1.3GW of hydro capacity. The investment required is estimated at some $30bn over the next 11 years. Some $13bn in public and private investment is already lined up for the 2017-22 period, according to the government.
CAIRO SCALES UP
Egypt's renewable energy targets are less ambitious in terms of share of generation, but the scope of Cairo's overall power strategy is huge, as it seeks to meet the fast-rising demand for electricity.
The country wants to capitalise on the massive gas discoveries made in the Mediterranean Sea over the past few years with the construction of new gas-fired plants, at the same time as it finally looks set to embark on the construction of its first nuclear power plants.
The Egyptian government is banking on private-sector...