Luigi Maria Pepe *

Renewable energy and sustainable development ‘‘The Moroccan case’’




2- The potential of renewable energies; 

3- Favorable environmental market; 

4- 15,000 projects analyzed by Irena; 

5- A unique Moroccan model; 

6- Champions to enlighten Africa; 

7- Morocco plays 'strategic' role in expanding renewable energy in Africa; 

8- Renewable energies: a lever for sustainable growth for the Moroccan economy.



1. Introduction

Global warming, persistent volatility in oil prices and increased global demand have all contributed to the emergence of renewable energy as an alternative to conventional sources. In this context, in order to meet its growing needs in an unstable global environment, Morocco has opted a good energy governance namely to combine its economic and social development with the protection of the environment. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to highlight the changes made since the installation of renewable energies and their impact on the development of the beneficiary region both socio-economically and at the level of the preservation of the environment. It is a question of evaluating the contribution of the strategies of development of these energies to the sustainable development of the country.


2. The potential of renewable energies

Renewable energies, contrary to what some people claim for one reason or another, are neither very diluted nor weak and they can meet the concentrated demand of megacities and large industries. The basic role of solar radiation arriving on Earth and the wind sweeping its surface, is to ensure the evolution of life on the planet and is not to meet the requirements of this or that technology. Will life, as we liveit, be possible with a flux of solar radiation two or three times more intense and a mean wind speed two or three times greater? These are the technologies that need to be developed to fit the characteristics of resources. And even life, she had no other choice to evolve. It is also forgotten that, for their energy content, foods are only solar energy transformed by natural processes (supported by humans in the context of agriculture) with a yield often less than 0.1%. And that despite this derisory yield, food megacities and all humanity (about 6.6 billion end of 2006) is assured. We also forget that the majority of technologies for the mobilization of renewable energies allow a yield 100 times higher, and in addition, in many cases, it does not require the availability of water, which is essential in the case of photosynthesis. The global annual potential of all renewable resources is enormous, it far exceeds all current and future needs of humanity in primary energy. Let us recall, once again, that food products, of animal and vegetable origin, represent only a part of the direct and indirect products of photosynthesis, photosynthesis which also produces firewood and wood for carpentry and for the paper industry and that this operation of photosynthesis only values 1% of the flow of solar energy arriving on earth. Let us add, limited to solar energy, that sunny surfaces, or rather too sunny and lacking water for agricultural use, are far larger than the surfaces used for intensive food farming. In addition, there is the performance factor already stressed above. Indeed, the transformation efficiency of solar energy into electricity or hydrogen, is 100 (for electricity) and more than 20 times (for hydrogen) higher than the yield in the production of plant and animal foods. Let's add that technologies for the valorization of renewable energies are in full development, their yields are constantly increasing and their costs can only decrease. The evolution of installed wind power around the world highlights three things: - The maturity of this technology; - The importance of the deposit; - And the good distribution of this deposit on the whole globe. This represents a good response to the limited distribution of fluid fossil resources and that of fossile resources.


3. Favorable environmental market

The first, externally, is linked to the international situation that has been marked since 2010 by a continuous decline in the production costs of renewable energies. In its report on the cost of renewables in 2018, published at the end of last January, the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), which has more than 145 Member States, explains that the "rapid" decline in energy production costs between 2010 and 2018, is linked to several factors. These include: "improved manufacturing processes"; continuous technological innovations; supply chains that are increasingly competitive; Increased competition between increasingly experienced product suppliers and international project developers. Irena also mentions the existence of a favorable regulatory and institutional framework, strong local engineering, incentive tax regimes, low project development costs and excellent resources. All of these factors have helped reduce the "cost-of-electricity cost" (Levelised Cost Of Electricity, LCOE) of renewable energy projects around the world.


4. 15,000 projects analyzed by Irena

In January, Irena also published its report on Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2018, raising awareness of the "real cost of renewable energy". The data presented in the report are drawn from the Irena Renewable Cost Database, which contains details of nearly 15,000 power generation projects around the world. The database takes into account large hydropower projects as well as domestic solar systems on residential roofs in the residential sector and larger rooftop systems in the commercial sector (below 1 MW); with an aggregation of results from more than one million systems installed in member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The figures also come from the Irena Auctions Database. According to the intergovernmental institution, this database contains a total of 293 GW of projects identified around the world. It should be noted that 92 GW (or 32% of the total) are located in Brazil; 78 GW in the United States (26% of the total); 48 GW in India (16%); 10 GW in Chile (3%); 6.5 GW in Argentina and South Africa (2% each); 5.5 GW in the United Kingdom (2%); about 5 GW in China and Germany (2% each). In terms of technology, Irena reports that onshore wind turbines are the largest contributor with project data totaling 114 GW (39%) per day. Photovoltaic solar is the second largest contributor with 85 GW (29%); hydropower monitoring with 44 GW (15%); biomass and offshore wind turbines with 9 GW each (3%); concentrated thermodynamic solar power plants (CSP) with 4 GW and geothermal with 0.1 GW.


5. A unique Moroccan model

Internally, the other factor that has strongly contributed to Morocco's competitiveness in renewable energies is related to the singularity of the Moroccan model and the expertise developed since then by Masen. Indeed, it has been 8 years since the outlines of the national renewable strategy were drawn up as part of a vision based on the triptych: constraint, will, opportunities. Morocco has understood that it must get out of its situation of "great dependence" vis-à-vis fossil fuels by gradually decreasing its imports which weigh heavily on its budget. To do so, he had to first know his situation of energy dependence, draw inspiration from his existing and avoid at all costs the logic of the subsidy. For example, the developers of the strategy understood that 5% of economic growth generates a need for additional electrification of 6 to 7%, which means that it is necessary to double the installed capacity every ten years. Then, inspired by the series of sectoral strategies, launched from 2008 to create levers for economic growth, the integration / compensation dimension was introduced in the strategy based on the truth of prices, far from any subsidy. Then, it was enough that there was the involvement of the highest authority of the State, which vigorously indicated the way, so that the strategy of production of renewable energies is put in place. As a reminder, this is to increase the share of renewable energy in the national energy mix to 42% by 2020 and 52% by 2030. Solar, wind and hydro will have to produce overall 6,000 MW by 2020, with a respective contribution of 2,000 MW each. It is very well engaged and according to the first forecasts, "the production planned for the end of 2020 will be exceeded".


6. Champions to enlighten Africa

The other ingredient that has led to Morocco's competitiveness in the ENR is the expertise acquired over time by the Masen team. Since Noor I, the team at the Sustainable Energy Agency has evolved and matured a lot. According to Mustapha Bakkoury, the boss of the agency that recently received the press, "we understood very early that we must do solar to meet the country's concrete needs. Also, we develop our projects with a constant watchful eye on the best practices and the best quality / cost ratios and we implement them where the resources are most abundant and where they have a real impact on the territories ". "Our concern is to succeed in a transition phase of what will happen after. For this we must go beyond the goal of generating electricity by creating ecosystems to boost the Moroccan economy, "explains MASEN's director, Mr. Bakkouri, whose ambition is to create national champions in the ENRs. Champions able to engage in commercial battles to illuminate Africa where nearly 650 million people still live without electricity.


7. Morocco plays 'strategic' role in expanding renewable energy in Africa

Morocco plays a strategic role in the energy sector and contributes to the expansion of renewable energies in the African continent, said the president of the African Development Bank Group (BAD), Akinwumi Adesina. "Morocco is a leader in solar energy in Africa and around the world, and its Sustainable Energy Agency, Masen, is doing an excellent job in this area," Adesina said in an interview following the conclusion of the BAD 2018 Annual Meetings. Highlighting the quality of relations between Morocco and the AfDB, he expressed his desire to see the Kingdom put the Masen agency at the service of the development of solar energy in other African countries. "Morocco is one of the largest BAD portfolios and we are investing heavily in renewable energy," Adesina said, adding that the pan-African financial institution is supporting the expansion of the successful project. the Noor Solar Power Plant in Ouarzazate. The BAD has recently launched the "Desert to Electricity" initiative, which aims to produce 10,000 megawatts of solar energy by harnessing electricity from the sun throughout the Sahel, which will connect 250 million people. he continued, believing that the Kingdom, through Masen, can accompany and provide "invaluable technical assistance" in order to achieve the objectives of this project.


8. Renewable energies: a lever for sustainable growth for the Moroccan economy

Morocco's choice to use renewable energies as a lever for economic development is part of an integrated strategic vision, driven by a strong conviction that this sector has great potential and opens up broad prospects for sustainable growth that respects the environment and which benefits everyone. Indeed, Morocco under the leadership of King Mohammed VI has embarked on major projects with the objective of developing its energy mix, a decision reflecting the Kingdom's ambitious energy policy and a relevant choice that will undoubtedly a training effect on the national economy. In this development-friendly approach, it is very important to emphasize the strategic aspect of the choice to produce clean energy in order to support sustained economic growth and ultimately strengthen the country's energy independence. Morocco, which continues to import a large part of its energy needs, at the same time displays a strong determination to strengthen its infrastructures, particularly in priority sectors. The ambition to change the situation explains why the Kingdom has not skimped on means to appropriate the objectives of sustainable development, lower the energy bill and reduce dependence abroad. These clearly defined targets as part of a proactive national strategy justify the need to create large-scale projects especially in solar and wind power, a well-thought-out approach that will have a positive impact on the national economy. Without any doubt, Morocco, with its strong strategic vision, aims to produce 52% of electricity from renewable resources by 2030, the aim being to meet the growing needs of businesses in the field of electricity. electricity, create momentum at the local level, acquire know-how in this high value-added area and contribute to continuously reducing the rate of greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Kingdom's commitments. This energy mix includes, in addition to large solar power plants, the construction of several wind farms and the strengthening of hydroelectric production. It is within the framework of a thoughtful national strategy that several renewable energy programs have emerged in various regions of the Kingdom, notably in Drâa-Tafilalet, which hosts a large part of them. This is in addition to the Ouarzazate flagship Noor project, the solar power station and the Midelt wind farm, the Noor Tafilalet and Noor Atlas programs and the Agdez hydroelectric plant in Zagora. As the experts rightly point out, Morocco's new experience of transforming solar rays into a source of clean energy generation offers the Drâa-Tafilalet region a historic chance to become an energy pole of excellence thanks to the solar power station of Ouarzazate. Technology transfer will also help to develop this territory into a hub and cluster in Morocco's renewable energy sector. In Ouarzazate for example, the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (MASEN) is developing, with its partners, 4 solar sites namely Noor 1 (operational since 2016), Noor 2 and 3 (under construction) and Noor 4, whose work was launched by King Mohammed VI in April 2017. This project, which will develop nearly 72 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity, will cover the energy needs of an average Moroccan city. As soon as it is commissioned, it should complete the planned 582 MW for the entire Ouarzazate multi-technology complex. In their argument, the experts also dwell on these factors that constitute the strength of Drâa-Tafilalet to host the largest number of energy sites, highlighting the natural potential that abounds in this territory where the sun shines all over year. Renewable energy projects will certainly have an extraordinary impact both in the regions where they are installed and in the national economy as a whole. In addition to their contribution to consolidating Morocco's stature as a regional giant and global producer of clean energy, their expected spin-offs explain why the renewable energy sector is a choice for the future and a valuable springboard for success.




AfDB (2016) NOORo: la plus grande centrale solaire à concentration du monde accroît la part d’énergies renouvelables dans la production d’électricité au Maroc. African Development Bank. Presse_NOORo.pdf .


Arce, R.; Mahia, R.;Medina, E.; Escribano, G. 2012. A Simulation of the Economic Impact Of Renewable Energy Development in Morocco, Energy Policy 46: 335-345.


Azzopardi, B. 2014. ‘’Green Energy and Technology:Choosing Among Alternatives’’, in Jahangin Hussein, Appel Mahmud ‘’Large Scale Renewable Power Generation : Advances in Technologies for Generation, Transmission and Storage’’, Series: Green Energy and Technology, Springer. Berg M, Bohm S, Fink T, et al (2016) Summary of workshop results: scenario development and multi-criteria analysis.


Boharb, A.; Allouhi, A.; Saidur, R.; Kousksou, T.; Jamil, A.; Mourad, Y.; Benbassou, A. 2016. Auditing and Analysis of Energy Consumption of an Industrial Site in Morocco, Energy 101: 332-342.


Bumpus A, Comello S (2017) Emerging clean energy technology investment trends. Nat Clim Chang 7:382–385


Frankl, P.; Nowak, S.; Gutscher, M.; Gnos, S.; Rinke, T. 2010. Technology Roadmap: Solar Photovoltaic Energy. France, International Energy Agency (IEA).


Hanger, S.; Komendantova, N.; Schinkec, B.; Zejli, D. Ihlal, A.; Patta, A. 2016. Community Acceptance of Large-scale Solar Energy Installations in Developing Countries: Evidence from Morocco, Energy Research & Social Science 14: 80-89.


Hilpert S, Kaldemeyer C, Krien U. ed al (2017), The open energy modelling framework (oemof)—a novel approach in energy system modelling. DoiOrg 49:1–24.


Joskow PL, (2011) Comparing the Costs of Intermittent and Dispatchable Electricity Generating Technologies. American Economic Review: Papers & Proceedings 2011, 100:3, 238–241.


Jankauskas, V.; Rudzkis, P.; Kanopka, A. 2014. Risk Factors for Stakeholders in Renewable Energy Investments, Energetika 60 (2): 113-124.


Klevas V.; Murauskaité L.; Kleviene, A.; Perednis, E. 2013. Measures for Increasing Demand of Solar Energy, Renewable and Substainable Energy Review 27: 55-64.


Komendantova N, Patt A, Williges K (2011) Solar power investment in North Africa: reducing perceived risks. Renew Sust Energ Rev 15:4829–4835.


Mahia, R.; Arce, R.; Medina, E. 2014. Assessing the Future of a CSP Industry in Morocco, Energy Policy 69: 586-597.


Mazzucato M, Semieniuk G (2018) Financing renewable energy: who is financing what and why it matters. Technol Forecast Soc Change 127:8–22 Moroccan Ministry of Energy, Mines, Water and Environment. 2016.


Moroccan Solar Energy Programme. Available on the Ministry’s website.


Schinko T, Komendantova N (2016) De-risking investment into concentrated solar power in North Africa: impacts on the costs of electricity generation. Renew Energy 92:262–272.


Schwerhoff G, Sy M (2017) Financing renewable energy in Africa—key challenge of the sustainable development goals. Renew Sust Energ Rev 75: 393–401.


Steffen B, Schmidt TS (2017) The role of public investment & development banks in enabling or constraining new power generation technologies. In: 2017 14th International Conference on the European Energy Market (EEM). IEEE, pp 1–6.


Waissbein O, Glemarec Y, Bayraktar H, Schmidt T (2013) Derisking renewable energy investment. UNDP, New York.






*Presidente della Fondazione Giambattista Vico