TANGIER, Morocco – At the gateway to Tangier, the strong wind blowing on the corridor from Gibraltar between Europe and Africa powers the long line of wind turbines along the mountain ridge with dramatic views of the green hills with gazing livestock and water in the far distance.
“The region of Tangier is very interesting in terms of wind generation because we have this corridor between Europe and Africa, which goes through years, and we have many windfarms actually here. Tangier is one of this and is the largest one – 140 MW. It was commissioned in 2010,” Tarik Hamane, the executive director of Masen and head of development, told New Europe in an interview in the bustling downtown Tangier on 29 January, following a press visit to the Tangier windfarm on the top of the mountain a couple hours earlier that day. He added that the windfarm extends on a trail of over 24 kilometres and consists of a total of 165 turbines.
The Tangier Wind Farm, which is carried out by the Office National d’Electricite in the Kingdom of Morocco, is part of the government’s strategy to develop renewable energies to promote national energy resources and to protect the environment. The project’s overall capacity of 140 MW, the windfarm increases the contribution of wind power to the national installed capacity to about 250WW and thus meets 2.5% of the national demand for energy
“There are also other four wind farms in this region, which are: Jbel Khelladi – 120 MW, Al Haouma – 50 MW, Al Koudia Al Baida, which was the first windfarm in Morroco and Africa commissioned in 2000, and also another farm of 32MW. So, these are the projects that are in operation now and there are some other projects that are ongoing,” Hamane said.
“The most important for me is the repowering of Koudia Baida we will conduct very soon. We already announced the bidding process and we are analysing the offers received from the bidders and we hope to start also the construction of this repowering the end of this year,” he said, adding that the repowering will enable the wind farm to increase its installed capacity from 50 MW to 120 MW. “So, definitely it’s an important region for wind generation,” he quipped.
Overall, within the next two-three years Marocco will add into the grid more than 1,200 MW new capacity of wind generation, Hamane said, adding that the existing capacity is about 1,200 MW which is all in operation.
The Masen executive director said Morocco is strengthening its position among the most developed African and Mediterranean countries in the renewable energy field, including wind, solar and hydropower. Morocco is also expanding its energy cooperation with the European Union.
“We are working closely with the European Commission but also the different European members, namely Germany and the other countries. I mean the cooperation starts from the beginning of our programme because the European Commission supports our project by some loans that have been secured from the European Commission, the European Investment Bank and also the KfW German Bank. We also use funds from Agence française de développement. So may agencies contribute to the development our project,” Hamane said.
“We are also sharing our experience with them. We are working together on the SET (Sustainable Electricity Trade) roadmap initiative,” he said, explaining that the objective is to create a market for renewable energy between Morocco and four European countries – Spain, Portugal, France and Germany, he said, adding that the European Commission is also supporting this initiative. “We are also in contact with the European Commission in order to develop tripartite project between Morocco, European Commission and also some African countries. We also started discussion about the hydrogen also potential cooperation between Europe and Morocco,” he said.
Asked whether Morocco can meet the 2015 Paris climate agreement goals, Hamane said, “We’re on the right way. We’re actually one of the leaders in terms of deploying renewables energy on massive quantity. We’re targeting to reach 42 percent by the end of this year and 52 percent at least by 2030 but in fact if you take into consideration the projects that are development or construction but the next few years we will be very close to our targets of 2030 which will push us to try and go a little further.” Helping reach that goal, Tangier Wind Farm will help save 126,000 tonnes of fuel oil per year and to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 368,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.
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