Energy Facts About Morocco

1. Morocco depends on imports for around 93 % of energy supply

While still   struggling to tap on its large hydrocarbon potential, Morocco has become the largest net importer of energy in Africa. According to the Ministry of Energy and Mines, 93.3% of the energy consumed in Morocco is imported, whether in the form of coal, oil and gas or electricity.

To address this reality, besides sustained efforts by ONHYM to explore the hydrocarbon potential of the country, Morocco, since 2009, has embarked on a new national energy strategy with clearly defined guidelines.

Morocco aims to optimize the energy mix in the electricity sector, accelerate the development of energy from renewable sources; mainly, wind, solar and hydroelectric; make energy efficiency a national priority, and promote foreign capital investment in oil and gas, ultimately leading to a further regional integration.

To support this strategy, the country announced an ambitious program to diversify its energy mix, and aimed to use 42% renewable energy by 2020 and achieve 52% of its energy from renewable resources by 2030.

2. Oil exploration began in 1890 and the first discovery was made in 1923 at the onshore Ain Hamra field in the Rharb Basin. To date, only 338 onshore and offshore exploration wells have been drilled.

Although hydrocarbon exploration started in late 19th century and the first oil discovery made in North Africa was Ain Hamra in the Rharb Basin, Morocco remains underexplored.

Despite this early discovery, most of the drilled wells were concentrated in the Rharb and Essaouira basins producing small shallow oil and gas accumulations.

With new technology that opened the deep offshore and the unconventional hydrocarbons, Morocco is considered a promising frontier.  The recently drilled few wells in huge offshore exploration area encountered encouraging live oil and gas shows.

Moroccan sedimentary basins both onshore and offshore cover an exploration area of circa 900 000 sq km. To date the total exploratory well drilled in those basins do not exceed 345 wells from which only 44 have been drilled offshore. That is an insignificant drilling well density. Much efforts are required in terms of exploration drilling.

To properly assess our hydrocarbon potential, integrated exploration drilling programs are needed from players making value from the drill bit.

3. In 2008 Morocco launched the National Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Plan, which aims to develop alternative energy

The Moroccan National Energy Plan is part of the policy of economic and social reforms initiated by The King Mohammed VI.  It lays out general guidelines and conditions for the development of renewable energies.

Fossil energy sources will continue to play an important role in the near future, but there is no doubt that the future of the national electricity mix will be through wind and solar.  

The main objectives of the energy strategy are:

  • Security of supply,
  • Access to energy at reasonable prices,
  • Energy management,
  • Environmental protection.

These objectives will be achieved mainly through the following actions:

  • Optimizing and diversifying the power generation mix,
  • Developing wind, solar and hydroelectric power generation plants,
  • Increasing energy efficiency in government buildings, and

Promoting regional integration of electricity transmission networks.

4. In 2009 the country launched the Moroccan Solar Plan, a national strategy to develop renewable energy

Solar is certainly the leading source of Renewable Energy in Morocco since its solar resources are equivalent to 20,000MW, with more than 3000 hours a year of sunshine and irradiation of 5 kWh/m2/day. However, solar energy still plays a small role in the Moroccan energy mix, namely in the framework of the rural electrification program, where photovoltaic is used to supply remote villages.

Things have changed considerably since the 2009 launch of the Moroccan solar plan. The program foresees that, by 2020, the installed capacity of both CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) and PV (Photovoltaic) will be at least 2,000 MW.  In addition to the planned Ouarzazate Noor I to IV sites, the Midelt and Tata projects were added in 2016. Once completed, these plants will allow Morocco to exceed 2,000 MW by 2020.  

Investments of approximately $9 billion are planned for 2020 under the solar plan.  In addition, ONEE will develop a series of medium-sized PV power plants (20 to 30 MW).

In Morocco, solar energy is already competitive: the average production cost at  Ouarzazate site (CSP) is 14 Dollar cents/kWh, and the cost of electricity generated by the Noor IV plant will be 5.8 Dollar cents/kWh, the lowest in the world.  

Due to the current evolution of producer prices and the excellent natural conditions in Morocco, CSP can be expected to cost substantially less than 14 Dollar cents/kWh.

5. The Moroccan Sahara Desert is home to ‘Noor’-giant thermosolar farm the first phase built at the Ouarzazate region, provides 160 MW of the ultimate 580 MW capacity and has already reduced Morocco’s carbon emissions by hundreds of thousands of tons a year

The 580 MW Noor plant Complex is expected to be the largest solar facility in the world. The first phase of the project, Noor I, came online in February 2016. This plant is generating capacity of 160 MW, and is able to store three hours’ worth of electricity. Phases two and three of the project  (Noor I and Noor II) are expected to come online in 2018 with a combined capacity of 350 MW, and enjoy seven hours of storage capacity each. The last phase of the project (Noor IV) will be solar PV, with 70 MW of capacity.

Combined with the 2017 solar tenders, Noor will help Morocco meet its target of 14 percent installed solar capacity by 2020, up from less than 2 percent in 2015. 

By the end of this year, Morocco will have 887 MW of operational solar power capacity.

Morocco’s climate objective is to achieve a 32% drop in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030. In 2010, Morocco was ranked 118th out of 176 countries in terms of GHG emissions with 69 million tons of CO², equivalent to 1.77 metric tons of CO² per capita.  The country has chosen to focus primarily on renewable energy to lower its emissions.