Interview: Tanja Gönner
What impact has climate change had on Morocco?
TANJA GÖNNER: Due to its geographical position, Morocco is very vulnerable to the impact of climate change. The country is grappling with desertification, floods and water scarcity. Morocco’s future development will depend to a large extent on whether it can reduce environmental damage and conserve its natural resources so that they are available for use on a sustainable basis. Despite its small contribution to global emissions, the country has been committed to mitigation efforts since signing the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992.
Today, Morocco – much like Germany – is undergoing a widely acknowledged energy transition, seeking a much higher contribution of solar and wind power. Maximising the use of renewable energy is an important component of Morocco’s “intended nationally determined contribution,” presented at the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris. The country envisages reducing carbon dioxide emissions by up to 32% by 2030. GIZ, which on behalf of the German government has supported a number of countries in bringing forward their energy transitions, is also providing assistance to Morocco. The country can definitely be seen as a pioneer in the North Africa region and is on the right track. The study “Delphi Energy Future”, conducted by GIZ and two other partners, predicts that renewable energies will take the global lead by 2040. Countries that strongly promote renewable energy sources now will, by that time, have improved their economic position enormously.
To what extent might off-grid solutions improve rural electrification rates in emerging markets?
GÖNNER: Electrification is of paramount importance to economic development. Morocco has created a success story on rural electrification through a long-running programme, which began in the 1990s and has been increasing the electrification rate from around 66% to close to 100% today. GIZ supported this programme through providing training, strategy advice and private sector development.
Despite today’s electrification rate, some remote areas in Morocco are still without grid connection. Off-grid solutions are a great opportunity to bring light, cooling and communication to these areas in particular, providing useful services to rural households and communities, such as the cooling of medicaments, thus reducing infant mortality rates, or the provision of educational content through radio, television and the internet. In the agricultural sector, stand-alone systems like solar pumping installations can contribute to the generation of income and local development. Such measures increase the quality of life and opportunities in rural communities, which helps alleviate any rural exodus.
What can be done to ensure renewable energy production benefits local communities?
GÖNNER: For the Moroccan government, the explicit goal has always been not only to produce clean energy but to seize the opportunity for economic development while doing so, particularly in local communities. Morocco’s solar and wind energy plans include local manufacturing and industrial integration in their tender documents. This has proven successful in the context of the first major solar power plant in Ouarzazate. In the area of wind energy, the German company Siemens will build a factory for components in Morocco. This demonstrates the country’s improving business environment and growing industrial base to provide services and products for parts of the power plants on a competitive level.
GIZ is supporting the solar industry and has helped establish a cluster of solar companies working along the solar technology value chain. The network, for instance, supports the development of new products by bringing together the right people and companies.
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