20 March 2012 – The robust growth in electricity demand in Morocco has underlined the need for a significant expansion in future generation and transmission capacity in that country. The Moroccan electricity market has been growing steadily at nearly six to eight per cent a year in the last ten years, following vigorous economic development and the implementation of a very successful rural electrification programme. This trend is expected to continue at about five to seven per cent for the next ten years, following GDP growth forecasts of 5.5 per cent.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Overview of the Moroccan Electricity Industry, finds that the country has embarked on a very ambitious electricity generation capacity-build programme, in order to raise installed capacity from 6,350 MW in 2010 to 14,500 MW by 2020, as electricity consumption is expected to almost double in the corresponding period.
Investments will reach an estimated US$16.35 billion in new generation infrastructure (2012-2020) and US$2.5 billion in network expansion (2011-2015). Renewable energy should account for 18% of power generation by 2012 and 42% by 2020.
“In an attempt to develop all energy resources available in the country, and to reduce its dependence on imported coal, the Moroccan government has decided to launch an ambitious wind and solar power programme,” notes Frost & Sullivan’s energy and power systems research analyst Celine Paton. “This renewable energy programme aims to build 4,000 MW of additional capacity by 2020.”
The Moroccan electricity market is developing rapidly, with substantial investments planned in the next ten years, in order to follow steady demand growth and eventually meet the export potential of green power to Europe, in line with Article 9 of the EU directive 2009/28/EC on the promotion of renewable energy, relating to the 20/20/20 EU strategy.
While the government’s plans are ambitious, it has struggled to meet targets in the past. For instance, the reserve margin decreased to worrying levels in 2007 and 2008, due to significant delays in completing new generation facilities. Nevertheless, the commissioning of new facilities in 2009 and 2010, combined with an expansion of the transit capacity between Morocco and Spain (inducing an increase of electricity imports from Spain), has helped resolve the issue.
The National Plan of Priority Actions launched in 2008, encompassing the building of new generation capacity and the implementation of energy efficiency measures, strived to create balance between electricity demand and supply from 2009 onwards. Also ambitious new investment projects, particularly new generation facilities using clean coal and renewable energies, are poised to help Morocco meet its rising electricity demand over the next decade.
“Regional integration with neighbouring countries (Spain and the Maghreb) will also further secure power supply within the country, fulfilling Morocco’s aspiration to become the power crossroads between Africa and Europe,” Paton concludes. “Furthermore, the upcoming law on the restructuring of the sector (separating generation, transmission and distribution activities, and establishing an independent regulatory body), and the progressive sector’s liberalisation, should enhance transparency and promote further private sector participation.”