In order to ensure its security of energy supply and diversify its energy sources, the government is pursuing a strategy of developing renewable energy as well as liberalising the energy sector to open up its market to international players.In a bid to alleviate the country’s expensive dependence on energy imports, the Moroccan government in the 1980s turned its attention to promoting renewable energy sources.
With 3,500 km of coastline and average wind speeds between 6 and 11 m/s, wind energy is one of the most promising sectors for renewable energy generation in Morocco.
Data gathered by the Moroccan Center for Renewable Energy Development (CDER) confirms that Morocco has several areas with excellent potential for exploiting wind energy, particularly in the regions around Essaouira, Tangier and Tetouan (with average annual average wind speeds between 9.5 and 11 m/s at 40 metres) and the areas of Tarfaya Dakhla, Laayoune and Taza (with annual average wind speed between 7.5 and 9.5 m/s at 40 metres).
In 2009, two new wind farms were installed in Morocco with a total capacity of 119 MW: 107 MW in Tangier and 12 MW for a Lafarge cement factory in Tetouan. This nearly doubles the total installed wind turbines capacity in Morocco, taking it up to 253 MW. In 2010, 33 MW will be added to the same site in Tangier.
Policies for wind power development in Morocco
The target of the Moroccan National Programme for Development of Renewable Energies and Energy Efficiency (PNDEREE) is to raise the contribution of renewable energy to reach 18% of the national electricity consumption (up from 7.9%) and 10% of primary energy (up from 3.4.%) by 2012.
This translates into 1,564 MW of wind power development in this time frame. By 2020, 2,000–2,200 MW are envisaged, plus around 4,000 MW by the private sector.
Moreover, the Moroccan government launched the so-called “EnergiPro” initiative, encouraging industrial players to reduce their production costs by producing their own energy for up to 50 MW of installed capacity.
Through this initiative, the national electricity authority Office National l’Electricité (ONE) ensures the transit of all electricity produced to the national high voltage grid, as well as the guaranteed purchase of the excess electricity produced and not consumed by the producers at an incentive tariff.
Several pieces of new legislation were adopted by the Moroccan parliament in January 2010 to encourage renewable energy deployment.
Most significantly a new law was adopted to promote renewable energy by modifying an existing decree of 1968, authorising the production of electricity from renewable sources by companies other than ONE. In addition, a new agency for renewable energy and energy efficiency (ADEREE) was created, which will replace CDER.
Existing wind farms in Morocco
The first wind farm in Morocco was installed in 2000 with a capacity of 50.4 MW in El Koudia El Baida (Tlat Taghramt -Province of Tetouan), a site with mean wind speeds of about 10.94 m/s and maximum wind speeds of 36.5 m/s at 10 meters height.
The wind power project was carried out by the company CED and consists of 84 Vestas wind turbines of 600 kW each. These wind turbines are connected to the national electrical grid of the North of Morocco. The annual production is about 200 GWh.
This was followed by a 3.5 MW project at the same site in March 2001, carried out in cooperation with Germany and using seven Enercon wind turbines of 500 kW each.
Another project of 10.2 MW was carried out by the cement company Lafarge for the electricity supply of its factory near Tetouan. This wind farm is composed of 12 wind turbines of 850 kW each.
The project started operations in September 2005, and its annual production is estimated at 38 GWh/year, about 40% of the total consumption of the factory. Any excess power will be fed into the Moroccan grid. An additional 10 MW were added to this project in December 2008, bringing the capacity up to 20.2 MW.
In April 2007, Morocco’s wind farm “Amogdoul” started operations, situated on Cap Sim 15km south of Essaouira. The site is famous for its strong and regular wind with an average annual wind speed of 9,45 m/s at 40 metres.
The 60 MW farm was realised by the ONE (National Power Company), using 71 wind turbines 850 kW turbines by Gamesa. The estimated production is about 210 GWh/year, reducing 156,000 tons of CO2 per year.
New developments in 2009
In 2009, two new wind power projects started operations: An initial 107 MW came online at a project at the sites of Allak, El Haoud and Beni Mejmel near Tangier and Tetouan cities, and a further 33 MW will be added in 2011, bringing the total capacity of the project to 140 MW.
The project will be composed of 165 Gamesa wind turbines of 850 kW, and with wind speeds of 9 m/s at 40 meters, annual production is expected to be around 526 GWh per year.
In addition, a further 12 MW were added to the Lafarge wind farm near Tetouan in June 2009, made up of six wind turbines of 2 MW each. This brings the total capacity up to 32 MW.
Outlook for 2010-2012
Morocco is well on track to meeting its target of 1,500 MW of wind power by 2012, mainly due to plans by industrial companies to install around 1,000 MW of wind energy for their own consumption.
In March 2007, the Moroccan government launched a call for expressions of interest and prequalification of companies and consortia for the development, financing, construction and operation of a 300 MW wind farm in Tarfaya.
Out of 17 companies that participated in the tender, two companies were shortlisted for the final selection, which is scheduled to take place in 2010.The project will be installed in two phases. The first 200 MW are scheduled to be operational in September 2011, with the remaining 100 MW following in October 2012.In addition to this, 33 MW will be added to the site in Tangier in 2010.