Solar projects to reinforce Moroccan grid

OUARZAZATE, MOROCCO - Morocco's energy shortfall jumped from 95.5 in 2008 to 96 in 2009, and 96.5 in 2010. The shortfall is attributed to huge infrastructure projects, population growth and a boom in the tourism sector.

To help meet the growing demand, the Moroccan government plans to triple the country's electricity output by 2020.

In October, Amina Benkhadra, Morocco's Minister of Energy, Mines, Water and Environment, signed conventions that secure state support for the establishment of an integrated solar electric power system. The minister unveiled Morocco's new energy strategy, which aims to build a diversified and balanced energy sector in which renewable energy occupies a significant place.

While the only existing interconnection between Europe and Africa is through Spain and Morocco, the Moroccan electricity sector is looking to exploit its renewable potential solar and wind to meet local demand and export surplus power to Europe by doubling the carrying capacity of the existing underwater cable between the two countries from 600 megawatts MW to 1,200 MW.

Morocco plans to construct 2,000 MW of solar projects, including a 500-MW solar power plant in the Ouarzazate area, which has an area of 2,500 hectares and 2,635 kilowatt-hours per square meter per year solar radiation.

This project is expected to produce 1,150 gigawatt-hours via four phases. The facility will use concentrated solar power technology. This project will be commissioned in 2015.

Morocco's energy demand growth rate is between 5 and 7.5 per year. The country's electricity consumption will double by 2020, and quadruple by 2030. To meet this ever-growing demand, Morocco's electricity utility, Office National d'Electricité ONE, will reinforce the generation system to reach 4,820 MW by 2015, with a 36 renewable energy share.

In 2009, ONE boosted the country's electrical grid by investing $812 million in production, transmission and distribution of electric power and the rural electrification program.


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