Morocco develops Solar Energy on a national scale

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An ambitious solar power project, estimated at 9 billion dollars, was announced Monday by Benkhadra Amina, Moroccan Minister of Energy. President of the Moroccan-French energy and environment Association, Mohammed Garoum believes it “is a very welcome initiative”.

Morocco is preparing an energy revolution as the northern African country strives to keep pace with the new global trend of energy diversification. Energy Minister, Amina Benkhadra, announced the establishment of a major solar power project in Morocco by 2020. The announcement was made Monday in Ouarzazate (southern Morocco) in the presence of King Mohammed VI and the Secretary of State U.S. Hillary Clinton, who was on an official visit to Morocco.

The total cost of the ambitious project is estimated at 9 billion dollars. With a high solar potential, the five sites selected for the program — Laayoune (Sahara), Boujdour (Western Sahara), Tarfaya (south of Agadir), Ain Beni Mathar (center) and Ouarzazate — will soon receive state of the art solar facilities composed of photovoltaic and solar thermal energy mechanisms. The site will cover 10 000 hectares and should produce up to 2 000 megawatts of electricity, “an annual saving of one million tons of oil,” says Amina Benkhadra.

95% of Morocco’s energy sector depends on oil

Possessing inadequate energy and mineral resources for its energy needs, 95% of Morocco’s energy sector depends solely in petroleum imports. This extreme dependence on oil has, in recent years, pushed the country to diversify its energy supplies. “It is essential to reduce our energy dependency… Monday’s announcement is a very welcome initiative” said Mohammed Garoum, president of the of Moroccan-French Energy and Environment Association

The National Electricity authority (ONE) has committed itself to assist private renewable energy investors and also promote the use of solar panels in individual homes and companies. Efforts have also been multiplied in the past decade to promote the development of alternative energy sources. “We now feel a real cohesion between the political authorities, operators of these new energies and the economy”, said Mohammed Garoum. “This project marks a turning point.”

Morocco, thus, sends a strong statement to the international community, only a month ahead of the Copenhagen International Conference on Climate Change. “Developing countries are ready for change. It is now up to developed countries,” concludes Mohammed Garoum “the true culprits of greenhouse gas emissions, to react.”

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