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Morocco: Here Comes the Sun

Morocco has announced this week the launch of a solar energy project, with an estimated cost of $9 billion, aiming at raising the share of renewable sources in the country's energy production. Mostly supportive bloggers have been sharing their thoughts.

I See the Light by si David on Flickr

I See the Light by si David on Flickr

The plan, unveiled in the southern Moroccan city of Ouarzazate during a ceremony attended by king Mohammed VI and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will, according to the local news agency, enable the country to equally divide its renewable energies’ national production between solar, wind and hydroelectric sources by the year 2020. By then, renewable energies will account for 38% of the country's overall energy production, according to the source.

Taha Balafrej, blogging on Vue du Maroc [Fr], explains that there might be a viable economic basis for the country's new policy inclination. He writes:

Dans le milieu des affaires, un intérêt grandissant est perceptible. Il faut reconnaître que l’effet Obama n’est pas étranger à cette prise de conscience animée par les opportunités économiques qu’elle engendre. Un pays comme le Maroc qui dépend presque entièrement des importations pour son énergie, et dont les ressources en eau se raréfient, a tout intérêt à rejoindre les pays qui y croient et y investissent.

There is an obvious interest among business people. And one must recognize that the “Obama Effect” has something to do with this, backed by the economic opportunities it creates. A country like Morocco, which depends almost entirely on imports for its energy, and which water resources are scarce, has all interest in joining the countries who believe and invest in clean energy.

The solar project, which is both publicly and privately funded, will benefit from American solar and steam technology, which seems to have won the market over traditional investors–primarily French–which is something thestrategist, blogging on Genesis Morocco, unequivocally endorses:

Seems the Europeans are out on this one. A clean shot for [American investors]. I'm all for it, the Europeans cannot match the Americans expertise in managing large scale programs…

thestrategist, publishing an open letter to the Moroccan king, further explains [Fr] his enthusiasm. He writes:

[Cette technologie pourrait] nous libérer des aléas de la pluviométrie en utilisant l'énergie abondante et renouvelable […], afin de dessaler l'eau de mer et approvisionner outre les besoins de l'industrie et des ménages, un système d'irrigation nationale en appoint, voire en remplacement, de la stratégie des barrages…

[This technology could] free us from dependency on rainfalls, by using the abundant and renewable energy […], to desalinate sea water and provide for the needs of industry and households, and a state-of-the-art national irrigation system in replacement of the dams building strategy…

Whilst the majority seems to be supporting the scheme, not everybody is impressed. Jebli, commenting [Fr] on a post published by online news journal, Hesspress [Ar], finds the cost way too expensive. He writes:

[C]e projet solaire va produire 2000Mega Watt/h, pour un cout de 9 milliards de dollars, ce qui est TROP TROP TROP cher.
Une centrale nucléaire, sa construction de bout en bout coute 1,5 milliard de dollars et produit 1000Mega watt/heure.
Ainsi, avec 9 milliards de dollars le Maroc aurait pu créer 6 centrales nucléaires, et aurait produit 6000Mega watt/heure.
Franchement, je ne comprend pas le choix de nos dirigeants, ils choisissent des téchnologies au hasard, sans réflichir, vraiment ils gaspillent l'argent public.

This solar project will produce 2000 Mega Watt / hour, at a cost of $ 9 billion, which is TOO MUCH expensive. A nuclear power plant construction would have costed 1.5 billion dollars and produced 1000 Mega watt / hour. With 9 billion dollars Morocco could have created 6 nuclear plants and have produced 6000 Mega watt / hour. Frankly, I do not understand the choices of our leaders. They choose technologies at random, without planning. Really, they are wasting public money.

Commenting on the same post, Hay Bin Yaqdan sees in the project [Ar] another stranglehold of foreign powers on local resources. He writes:

نرجو أن لا يخصخص هذا المشروع و نصبح في رحمة شركة ما (في الغالب فرنسية).
لمذا انتظر الملك حتى زيارة كلنتون للإفتتاح صحبتها؟ نظرتي نحو هذا المشروع هو تكريس هيمنة الدول المتقدمة “أمريكا” مثلا

I hope this project will not be overly privatized, so that we don't fall into the mercy of corporations (mostly French). Why has the King waited for the visit of Clinton? My view about this project is that it is devoted to the dominance of developed countries, like America

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