With ambitious financing and training programmes, the North African country is counting on its renewable energy potential to cope with the implementation of the carbon tax. In order to green the Moroccan economy and achieve the expected sustainable development, the Kingdom must optimise logistics, transport and streamline procedures and deadlines to encourage investment in the energy sector

Wind and solar, two pillars of renewable energy in Morocco

Vista aérea de la central solar marroquí Noor 3 en Ouarzazate, en el centro de Marruecos - FOTO/AP
PHOTO/AP - Aerial view of the Moroccan solar power plant Noor 3 in Ouarzazate in central Morocco

At the 5th edition of the Spanish-Moroccan Business Meeting on renewable energies organised by the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Tangier, the panellists analysed the challenges of the development of solar and wind energy in Morocco as a source of great potential for renewable energies at the national level.

In the first panel dedicated to solar energy in Morocco, Amine Yamou, Project Manager for Renewable Energies at the Moroccan Agency for Renewable Energies (MASEN), created in 2009, stressed that "after having contributed to the construction of the large Noor Ouarzazate Solar Plant, the agency has launched a tender last August for the Noor Midelt III plant which is part of a mega-project of massive solar energy integration and which will be larger than the Ouarzazate plant with a final installed capacity of 1,600MW. 

The MASEN representative clarified that "there are several Spanish companies that have been qualified to participate in the tender for the construction of the first phase of this plant with an initial capacity of 400MW"; stressing that "investments in renewable energies will not only benefit Morocco, but also neighbouring countries". With alleged end-customers in Spain and other EU countries, Morocco will implement a series of projects in 2024 that will mark firm steps towards a full carbon phase-out planned for 2040, thanks to the new Moroccan development model that advocates sustainable and green development, Amine Yamou explained. 

AFP/FETHI BELAID - Paneles solares utilizados para alimentar bombas de agua para riego
AFP/FETHI BELAID - Solar panels used to power irrigation water pumps

According to the intervention of Roger Pasola, Director of Hydrogen Storage and New Developments at the Spanish Photovoltaic Union (UNEF), in Spain the reality of the market has demonstrated the benefits of solar energy; since in 2018 there was talk of an installed capacity of 4G that was then multiplied by six, the same in Morocco where the data is very positive. The first benefit of solar energy is modularity by capitalising on a space where it contributes to a clean productive activity by favouring self-consumption. 

"In the last five years, Spain has had hundreds of companies, many of them specialised in solar energy in the electrical field. We have sufficient resources to be the most competitive and embrace the opportunity to have access to greater economic growth and social and sustainable development," continued Roger Pasola.

Mouhcine Karaoui, in charge of Promotion and Support at Maroc PME, the Moroccan Agency for the Promotion of Small and Medium Enterprises linked to the Ministry of Industry, underlined that the agency has implemented the "Tatwir Green Growth" programme aimed at companies working in the industrial sector with a turnover of less than 200 million dirhams. This programme is composed of three major projects: the Council of Technical Expertise through which the Maroc PME intervenes to take care of the cost of providing services up to 80% as a form of technical assistance, the second is the State premiums to support investment and can reach up to 30% in the photovoltaic installation for example and the integration of equipment, while the third is the accompaniment to innovation and creativity that can reach up to 50% of the development of profiles or technologies, explained the head of Promotion and Support in Maroc PME.  

Mohammed Nabil Lahlou, head of the Planning Department of the Agency for the Development of the North (APDN), created in 1996, underlined the agency's mission, which is to promote and support all economic and social development actions in the northern region. "As for the Tangiers-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region, made up of eight prefectures and provinces included in this plan, the strategy is based on five strategic development axes: long-term progress and modernisation, improving the local population's access to social services (health and education), and hence stimulating the local and regional economy," Lahlou stressed.

AFP/FADEL SENNA - Un trabajador se encuentra frente a un panel solar que forma parte del proyecto de energía solar Noor 1 en Ouarzazate
AFP/FADEL SENNA - A worker stands in front of a solar panel that is part of the Noor 1 solar energy project in Ouarzazate

The development agency collaborates with all economic actors in all matters relating to renewable energies and energy efficiency by carrying out technical studies on the public lighting network in partnership, in this case, with the municipality of Tangier and the AMEE, as well as developing a geographic database and a master plan for renewable energies. "The agency is also involved in other projects such as household waste management and 7 million euros for the implementation of structural projects and the development of all sectors of activity in the industrial fields," continued Lahlou of the APDN.  

The CEO of Greening e-Maroc, Omar Vallecillos Carretero, specified that "the renewable energy pilot project invests in the development of photovoltaic self-consumption installations". Specialised in the industrial sector, Greening e-Maroc plans and executes photovoltaic plants in search of solutions for the implementation of energy saving strategies and business sustainability; it also aims to maximise the efficiency and productivity of photovoltaic installations through proper maintenance, according to Vallecillos Carretero.

The company Shreya Clothiers has initiated a sustainability plan based on the reduction and good management of industrial waste and the elimination of fossil fuel consumption in industrial processes. In this way, investing in renewable energies is essential to improve the carbon footprint, according to the company's CEO Vinod Nebhwani. 

PHOTO/FILE - Energía solar en Marruecos
PHOTO/FILE - Solar energy in Morocco

The Shreya representative pointed out that "after one year of investment in green energy, the company has an installed capacity of 386 kWc, and a self-consumption rate of 44%, thus achieving an emission reduction of 148 tonnes of CO₂. "Thanks to this, the company has improved its competitiveness as well as its commitment to the sustainable development of the industry to accompany the customer in the challenges of the future," he concluded. 

The Chinese company Aelon, created in 2007 in Shanghai, participated in the wind energy panel in Morocco, an international pole in full dynamism, with a long trajectory that has generated great expertise in the field of wind energy. In this line, Carles Eustaquio Ruiz, project manager, presented the part of Aelon Morocco Project with an investment of 266M euros generating 3,200 jobs with more than 30% of female participation, 30% of local integration and 12 production lines.  

Aelon Morocco Project is a pilot wind energy project located in the Industrial Acceleration Zone in Nador and is the first company to be installed in the port of Nador West Med (NWN). "Starting from the interest to internationalise in markets around the world, in Europe as a first choice, in America, in India, in Turkey where there is a logistics hub with a number of advantages (by 2050), Morocco has met the conditions for attracting investment thanks to political stability and the experience of many companies in the sector, in addition to economic prosperity and a geographical situation distinguished by its proximity to the European Union," said the project manager. 

According to Hasnaa Nabil, head of division at the Directorate of Aeronautical, Railway, Naval and Renewable Energy Industries at the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Morocco has made progress in renewable energy since 2009, considering that the carbon tax will give a secondary boost to a green economy. 

AFP/ABDELHAK SENNA - Una imagen de archivo tomada el 8 de junio de 2010 muestra turbinas eólicas en el parque eólico recientemente inaugurado de Dahr Saadane en Tánger
AFP/ABDELHAK SENNA - A file image taken on 8 June 2010 shows wind turbines at the recently inaugurated Dahr Saadane wind farm in Tangier

"We must not lose sight of the challenges of the carbon tax, as the implementation of this type of tax will generate more charges for companies, which will have a direct impact on their competitiveness," said Hasnaa Nabil. Since the announcement of the tax, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Energy Transition have been working together to implement an industrial decarbonisation programme that aims to provide industrial zones with clean energy, he clarified. "The carbon tax will act as a catalyst to expand access to renewable energy and the emergence of a productive ecosystem based on clean energy technologies," he added. 

For Santiago Muelas, the Area Manager Shipping Division West Africa at Romeu Group, logistics is the key to wind energy as the components are becoming very large and heavy. The Romeu Group representative emphasised the importance of Southern Morocco in terms of the Chinese companies that are setting up in the North African country to contribute to the wave of wind energy constructions that the Kingdom will see in 2025.  

Answering the question of why to opt for southern Morocco, Santiago Muelas pointed out that "the advantage lies in the hundreds of empty kilometres with a lot of wind, where Western Sahara has everything: ideal space, constant wind and a huge surface area to produce energy for the whole of Africa, which represents an impressive resource for Morocco. "The challenge is transport, whose cost is very high and it is very difficult to have special equipment and trucks to transport the components of the turbine, in addition, more and more trucks with greater capacity and expertise are required, which pushes us to think of two solutions: maritime and port to solve problems such as transport, storage, customs and long deadlines for permits that hinder mobility", highlighted the representative of the Romeu Group.

PHOTO/FILE - Energía eólica en Marruecos
PHOTO/FILE - Wind energy in Morocco

Carlos Vicente Martinez, manager of the company Lasser Wind Africa, said that "after having been surprised by the great potential of Morocco, the company has carried out in 2023 several activities in wind energy, taking all the necessary measures to achieve progress in the coming years such as optimizing costs and selling in Morocco a national product of quality.  

The dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology in Tangier, Mohamed Addou, said that "since the launch of the Moroccan renewable energy plan in 2009, Moroccan universities have created many training courses that complement the offer of IFMEREE either through the faculties of science or engineering schools".   

"The profiles that we will have in the near future can meet the specific needs of companies working in the field of renewable energies, we will provide them with all the skills required by this market oriented towards the field of green hydrogen, seawater desalination and energy efficiency in industry," Addou concluded.

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