Analysis by African Energy Live Data shows Morocco’s very active project pipeline could more than double installed capacity from around 8.3GW to just over 17GW by 2025. A lot is going on in the industry, but progress will be defined by developments over the next few months in a handful of major procurement programmes
Morocco has an extremely active project pipeline across a wide range of technologies and procurement strategies, but the success and shape of the power sector over the next five years and beyond will be defined by the way a small number of dominant programmes develop over the next few months.
Key schemes are the massive integrated LNG and gas-to-power scheme, which is still intended to add new combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) capacity by 2021; Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy’s (Masen) iconic solar generation scheme, which could expand enormously if key projects move forwards; and a highly competitive renewables independent power project (IPP) programme, where under Law 13-09 privately-financed projects are striving to sign power purchase agreements (PPAs) with large private offtakers.
An analysis of the pipeline based on data in African Energy Live Data shows that the commissioning of projects with established dates to come on line in the eight years to 2025 will more than double installed capacity from approximately 8.3GW to just over 17GW – providing the kingdom maintains the pace established in recent years by Masen and other agencies.
For all the talk of renewables defining Morocco’s energy future – with major contributions coming from the wind and solar programme led by Masen and state utility Office National de l’Electricité et de l’Eau Potable (ONEE) – coal will play an important part in this expansion. The largest projects in the pipeline include the 1.25GW Safi coal project and the 318MW extension to the Jerada coal-fired plant, which are under construction, along with the planned 1.3GW Nador coal project and the two 1.2GW CCGT plants to be built in the integrated LNG scheme’s first phase.
There are, however, more than 40 projects totalling 6.7GW for which no expected commissioning date have been announced. Some of these, such as the proposed Safi Essaouira 1GW nuclear plant, are unlikely to make progress for the foreseeable future (although the success of Egypt in launching the development of its first nuclear plant may encourage other aspirant countries to accelerate their developments.)
Law 13-09: ‘a crowded and competitive space’
Another important category includes those projects being promoted under Law 13-09, which now permits the operators of hydroelectric power (HEP) plants up to 30MW and of wind farms up to 300MW to negotiate PPAs directly with large private sector offtakers of high-voltage power. This has become a crowded and competitive space, and it is not certain that all proposed developments will succeed, despite a majority of them being backed by credible and experienced sponsors.
Currently, the pipeline of Law 13-09 projects divides into two broad categories: those which have received authorisation from the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Sustainable Development, and those which have not. The projects with authorisation include Nareva subsidiary Société Energie Eolienne du Maroc’s 200MW Aftissat Wind, which is the last of five developments totalling more than 500MW which the company has successfully developed under the law. Other wind projects with ministry authorisation include Acwa Power’s 120MW Khalladi Wind. Both these projects are expected to start operations in 2018.
France’s Innovent is one of the few other developers to have secured authorisation for its projects. However, the company has yet to formally announced any PPA or financial close for its two 18MW projects near Safi. Innovent Maroc director Driss Faouzi told African Energy that information on the construction and choice of turbine supplier was “still confidential”.
Other leading developers are simultaneously attempting to negotiate PPAs and to secure ministry authorisation. Live Data lists 12 projects totalling 2GW which are being promoted by Innovent and another French company, Voltalia, Belgium’s Windvision and Casablanca-based Platinum Power. According to one industry participant, “this is a very competitive market [in which] only the high-voltage customers are approachable and only those which are not government-owned. So the number of potential offtakers is limited. All the developers are fighting to sign PPAs.”
The situation is made more complex by the fact that “to get authorisation you need to have a signed PPA, but customers are not willing to sign with projects that do not have authorisation. Discussions with the government are going on to cut this vicious circle.” This is one of the major elements of Morocco’s power procurement which must be resolved before the project pipeline can be evaluated with greater precision.
Eleven private sector utility-scale HEP projects have received ministry authorisation, however none of them yet have announced PPAs. This area is dominated by three developers: Platinum Power, Société Générale des Travaux Publics (SGTM) and Rabat-based Energie Terre, whose founder is one of the claimants to the French dukedom of Orléans.
In parallel, public sector hydropower development is advancing under the management of ONEE, which is working on a pair of pumped storage plants at Abdelmoumen (see African Energy, Issue 361) and at Ifahsa; the latter is not scheduled for completion until 2025.
Development of solar projects is dominated by a growing procurement programme under the control of Masen, whose preferred engineering, procurement and construction partner to date, Saudi-owned Acwa Power, is building the second, third and fourth phases of the ground-breaking Noor project at Ouarzazate. This will be followed by large photovoltaic (PV) developments in Laayoun (El Ayoun) and Boujdour, hybrid PV/concentrated solar power projects in Midelt and potentially further multi-phase PV developments grouped under the Noor Tafilalet, Noor Argana and Noor Atlas schemes.
The latter set of projects were originally conceived by ONEE, but were brought under Masen’s control in 2016. The agency has yet to state how quickly it expects to bring these projects to fruition. Altogether they will contribute approximately 1.3GW of capacity spread across much of the rural interior.
The most recent in-depth analysis of energy projects in Morocco was published in issue 360 of African Energy.
Note: Data in this article is presented for public use, providing the figures are attributed to African Energy Live Data.
This article is authorised for republication with attribution and link to African Energy Live Data – www.africa-energy.com/live-data