Interview: Nouzha Bouchareb

What steps are being taken to develop environmentally sustainable cities?

NOUZHA BOUCHAREB: Morocco has considerable renewable energy potential, with 3000 hours of sunlight per year, 5 KWh per sq metre per day of irradiation and 25,000 MW of wind power. The country has set ambitious targets to integrate renewables into the energy mix in order to reduce costs and greenhouse gas emissions. In rural and landlocked areas particularly, renewables present an opportunities to improve living conditions and ensure access to reliable, profitable and sustainable energy. This was shown by a pilot project in the village of Id-Mjahdi, where an independent solar power production system covers the energy needs of its 50 inhabitants through a mini-electricity network. This type of project offers sustainable and efficient alternatives to supply-isolated villages, which are more difficult to connect to the national electricity grid.

Renewable energy also presents new opportunities for cities. The introduction of solar-powered water heaters and electricity production systems in the residential and tertiary sectors will reduce the national energy bill, as well as have a significant socio-economic impact by creating jobs and stimulating both the energy sector and the entire value chain. Morocco has shown its commitment to promoting the use of renewable energy in cities by strengthening its legal framework through the opening of the low-voltage market, the promotion of energy services companies, compulsory energy audits and various other initiatives.

In addition the generation infrastructure being developed in cities such as Ville Mohammed VI and the eco-cities of Zenata, Lakhyayta and Chrafate uses a new approach aimed at integrating energy and environmental concerns in the design stage.

How does regionalisation benefit communities?

BOUCHAREB: The project of advanced regionalisation, launched by King Mohammed VI, is an evolution of previous initiatives to bring about decentralised management and aims to promote democracy and socio-economic development.

In this context, advanced regionalisation is a powerful lever for the involvement of local players in the development process of their community. The design of a future development and territory planning strategy is based on the creation of new roles for the state, the implementation of incentives that favour economic growth, and the preservation of national heritage in order to ensure sustainable development while protecting citizens’ interests both now and for years to come.

At the same time, regionalisation encourages global integration and strengthens the economy. It also supports fragile territories in their specific evolution and adaptation to changes such as coastal development, urbanisation, globalisation and climate change.

In what ways can Morocco integrate renewable energies into its construction sector?

BOUCHAREB: Morocco is already making progress in producing affordable, reliable and sustainable energy, particularly from solar and wind generation. The kingdom plans to increase its use of renewables to 52% by 2030; currently, solar energy already meets 35% of Morocco’s electricity needs. However, the use of renewables by the construction sector – for example, the installation of solar cells on buildings – is still in its early stages. In terms of solar thermal energy, the sector has significant potential to install solar-powered water heaters, which would reduce household energy bills and national energy consumption. In order to utilise this source, we need to develop an integrated programme combining technical, financial and incentive plans.

Although limited, the market for thermally efficient materials has expanded since the General Regulations on Construction established energy performance rules for the sector in 2015. To promote further growth, the use of locally sourced materials should be encouraged.