Morocco touted to be a 'big solar power developer' in North Africa

solar BrightSource Energy flickrA KPMG report has claimed that Morocco is showing great promise as a renewable energy developer in North Africa

The government of Morocco has decided to decrease its dependency on fossil fuels and focus on increasing its production of renewable energy, stated the report. Production of concentrated solar power (CSP) is in particular a popular option and Morocco is receiving financial aid from the World Bank for these endeavours.

In a statement made in January 2014, the World Bank said, “In a region that has recently come to be associated with social upheaval and anemic growth, Morocco often stands out as an exception. Over the last decade the country has made remarkable progress in reducing poverty and sustaining economic growth. Policies focussed on steady public finance consolidation and manageable budget deficits opened up the fiscal space for sustained investment and social expenditures.

"Following the 2011 demonstrations, a new constitution was ushered in, accompanied by the launch of a number of reform programmes aimed at responding to popular demands for more voice and accountability.”

In its mission to promote awareness of green energy, Morocco is hosting a solar boat in the Marchica lagoon. PlanetSolar is a boat that has travelled the world using solar energy and the initiative aims to show that one can rely on solar power alone, and thereby reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

PlanetSolar is currently in Atalayoun, in the Marchica lagoon of Morocco - showing the Moroccan authorities’ desire to promote the use of renewable energies within the framework of a comprehensive development plan for the Marchica lagoon, stated reports.

The German Aerospace Centre, in a report in 2005, stated that if just 0.3 per cent of North Africa were to be fully supplied with solar power-generating facilities, there would be sufficient energy to power the needs of the European Union countries. Morocco alone receives 3,000 hours of sunlight every year, ie, at least eight hours of sunlight everyday. Its proximity to the Sahara desert makes the country a viable candidate for harnessing solar power.

One of the major CSP projects coming up in Morocco is the Ouarzazate project in south Morocco, comprising five solar plants. The contract for the first phase of 160MW has already been awarded to Saudi Arabia's ACWA Power. This project is expected to cover 18 per cent of Morocco's power needs upon completion in 2019, KPMG said.

However, compared to the recommened but costly CSP model, the photovoltaic (PV) model works better for Morocco, according to the KPMG report. PV solar panels can be installed easily on rooftops, even in underdeveloped areas.

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