Genesis Morocco: Project Genesis Morocco Outlook, and Prospects of Regional Collaboration for UMA

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Genesis Morocco

Project Genesis is a strategic sustainable development framework for Morocco to translate from being a net importer of energy and a country facing water shortage issues, into the number one producer both of clean renewable energy and water in the region.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011    <<Home

Project Genesis Morocco Outlook, and Prospects of Regional Collaboration for UMA

Project Genesis stated goals in 2006 was to reach a capacity of 12 GW of solar energy capacity at a rate of one GW per year, putting the completion date at 2018, yes, a bit overly ambitious, but at the time it was an idea and since it is turning into fact. As things stand, we will reach 5GW by 2020. There is still 7GW to develop to complete the scope of this project as I envisioned it.

The remaining 7 GW would take 14 years to implement providing we reach our 2020 target on time,which I am confident we will, maybe less considering the accelerated learning curve for projects already in the pipe. Im basing this estimate on the time its going to take us to implement 5GW by 2020. That puts the estimated completion date for Project Genesis Morocco’s stated objectives at 2034 or 2036 at the latest.

By then Morocco should dispose of a 12 GW capacity for solar alone. Enough to power desalination stations in a sustainable way and embark on reclaiming arid land in our southern provinces through micro irrigation and pivot plant agriculture. This will be for Morocco a viable long term solution for its food autonomy in the coming decades. Large swaths of our territory is arid, desertification is not something that you contain, it has to be fought back. Micro irrigation greenhouses and pivot plant agriculture is the way to go.

Growing capacity past that point makes sense once we are are able to sustain our economy, water needs and agriculture in an efficient way. That means no energy imports safe for oil, and yes heavy fuel and coal.  We have legacy power plants that rely on heavy fuel and coal and were not just going to throw them away, so they have to be phased out progressively, and their capacity replaced by renewables. These two will be the first to go in due time, as for oil it is a necessary import as long as it takes for transportation alternatives based on electricity or hydrogen to mature and become mainstream.

At any rate, abundant renewable energy and desalinated water should mean no more wheat or agricultural produce imports in the future. We should see that taking place once we have grown our desalination and agricultural capacity accordingly. That is key for sustainable development, growing and consuming our food locally and that very same strategy is pursued by many country still relying on imports.

As for the region as a whole, I already stated that an initiative such as DESERTEC will only become viable once our local needs are covered, the Moroccan state is fully aware of that, since the protocols put in place by MASEN clearly state that any energy produced will be sold to ONE, (National Electricity Office) directly. ONE will only be looking at exports once it satisfies local demand for energy. The same is going to apply in all of the countries in the region, namely Algeria whose energy minister already made clear that only surpluses would be exported, and most likely Libya, Tunisia will follow suit.

The challenge for the north African region is integration, this integration can be based on energy, our grids have to be interoperational and a UMA (Union of the Arab Maghreb) supergrid, along the lines of what’s been done in Europe has to be pursued. Solving the energy question as an ensemble, in a cohesive manner, is a strategic structuring framework for the region. We can also collaborate in the fields of water and food autonomy, we are all concerned and have to work together. One of the benefits of this multilevel cooperation is deflating any artificial tensions in the region. And I stress the word artificial, if you ask citizens of Morocco or Algeria, they will tell you that the two peoples have no issues with one another, as for politicians it’s a different matter. The same certainly applies for the Algerian and Libyan people after the fall of Kaddafi. Tunisia is bound to do better. Remains the Mauritanian question.

I believe that Mauritania is still lagging far behind other countries of the region, and therefore we have to help, and since they are part of UMA they have to be brought on board in this broad agenda, whose goal is and remains the betterment of living standards for the ensemble as a whole.

It is Morocco’s duty to lead, since our ambitious stated renewable energy target, 42% of the energy mix of the country to be reached by 2020, with 5 GW of capacity in development, put Morocco at the forefront in the entire MENA / Africa region. We can already see a race taking place between Morocco and Algeria, it is a desirable state of affairs, but should not, absolutely not shadow cooperation and we can already tell that it wont be the case as a high level delegation recently visited Algeria to push forward grid integration between the two countries.

I have to say and this will be my conclusion, we are still far behind our collaboration potential. Algeria’s vast foreign currency reserves can and should be invested in making important inroads for the development of our renewable energy potential as an ensemble, that means investments here in Morocco, in Mauritania and everywhere in UMA where development is only held back by cash issues.

I believe Algerians could be handsomely paid back through participations in such projects as well as the prospects of seeing a regional energy concern take shape, one that could replace SONATRACH someday. SONELGAZ for one is has already defined the edges of its renewable energy strategy and embarked on subsequent investments.

We need to renew the ties between Algeria and Morocco and putting past disputes aside. The mutual interests are evident, the cost of inaction too high to consider. This post is my personal contribution, say a bottle to the sea in the direction of our neighbors shores, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania. Countries we have willingly chose to share our destinies with in the context of the Union of the Arab Maghreb, a choice furthermore reaffirmed and inscribed black on white in our new constitution.

The Arab spring will be green as all springs are.

Genesis Morocco :