Morocco is expected to be the Arab country with the second largest additions of solar and wind energy capacity
With 1.9 GW of solar and wind capacity, Morocco has the third largest renewable energy capacity among Arabic-speaking countries, according to the latest Global Energy Monitor report.
Morocco's current solar and wind capacity places it behind Egypt, which tops the regional rankings with an installed capacity of 3.5 GW, and the United Arab Emirates, which has a capacity of 2.6 GW. Jordan and Saudi Arabia follow Morocco with 1.7 GW and 0.78 GW respectively.
With the Arab world having more than 12 GW of utility-scale solar and wind power, Global Energy Monitor found that Arabic-speaking countries are competing for renewables. Even major oil producers such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Algeria are increasingly marking a shift away from fossil fuels to green energy.
An 'impressive change'
“At the epicenter of the oil economy, a renewable energy boom is taking shape,” said Ingrid Behrsin, project manager at Global Wind Power Tracker. “This transformation should send a strong signal to the rest of the world that even oil and gas producing countries are embracing renewable energy.”
The Arab world's "impressive" shift toward renewable energy is underpinned by the region's "tremendous wind and solar development potential," argued Kasandra O'Malia, project director at Global Solar Power Tracker.
Another example of Arab governments' willingness to support renewable energy development is the region's plans to produce an additional 73 GW from new large-scale solar and wind projects. These projects will increase the region's current overall capacity by more than five times to reach 91 % of the Arab League's 2030 renewable energy targets.
Prospective projects include 114 solar plants and 45 wind farms that are "remarkably large," the report said.
“The average size of potential solar farm phases in the region is more than four times that of the rest of the world, and the average size of wind farms is more than one and a half times that of the rest of the world. added monitor.
Oman, Morocco and Algeria, the three main countries in the region, will produce 39.7 GW from prospective projects, equivalent to more than four times the new gas capacity of the three countries.
In particular, Morocco is expected to produce an additional 14.4 GW from solar and wind energy over the next five years, six times the capacity of the country's potential gas projects. These large-scale expansions of renewable energy make Morocco the Arab country with the second largest planned additions of solar and wind capacity.
Oman topped the list with 15.3 GW of potential renewable energy additions, ahead of Algeria with 10 GW, Kuwait (9.6 GW) and Iraq (5.8 GW).
As Morocco has long aimed to increase its solar and wind capacity by 14 GW and 1.3 GW between 2018 and 2027, the country will export approximately 12 GW of its potential capacity.
According to the Global Energy Monitor report, green hydrogen projects planned in Morocco, as well as Algeria and Saudi Arabia, are aimed at international markets.
Hydrogen projects, such as Morocco's 10 GW Total Eren Guelmim Oued-Noun, will store 5 GW of solar energy and 5 GW of wind energy in the form of hydrogen and ammonia. The investment of 9.4 billion euros will begin operating in 2027.
Morocco faces challenges despite its commendable efforts
With green hydrogen representing the future of a global transition towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, Morocco is considered a regional and even global leader in the relatively new subsector.
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reported in June that Morocco has the potential to produce the third cheapest green hydrogen in the world by 2050, thanks to the country's installed and planned onshore wind and solar projects.
Morocco also has vital untapped resources with respect to tidal energy and offshore wind energy. Offshore wind energy alone can meet Morocco's energy demand 17 times.
The increase in Moroccan renewable capacity has helped alleviate the costs of green hydrogen production. However, Morocco's expensive electrolysis technology and water shortages could impede the country's progress in this sector.
Recently launched desalination projects in Morocco can help address water demand for the electrolysis process that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen.
However, such projects raise concerns about their impact on marine life. For example, the desalination process releases large amounts of concentrated salt water into the sea or ocean, which can harm the livelihood of marine life.
Although Morocco appears interested in advancing its renewable energy sector in favor of primarily export markets, the North African country has not yet committed to any net zero targets. Meanwhile, the current energy crisis highlighted the country's dependence on fossil fuel energy imports. And recent investments in the Jorf Lasfar thermal power plant also raise concerns about the country's rising greenhouse gas emissions.
Still, reports have recently indicated that Africa's contribution to global warming is minimal: the entire continent emits less than 3% of greenhouse gases. However, the continent is heavily affected by droughts, floods and rising temperatures, among other problems exacerbated by climate change.