Wind rising: Major projects have put Morocco on the map for wind energy

With an installed capacity of approximately 800 MW in 2015, Morocco represents the third-largest African market for wind energy behind South Africa (1053 MW) and Egypt (810 MW). As part of Morocco’s ambition to attain 42% of its electricity needs from renewable energy sources by 2020, in recent years authorities have accelerated the development of large-scale wind farms across the kingdom by increasing the focus on private investment.


In Morocco, the early developments of wind farms date back to the year 2000, when a first 50-MW plant was completed in Koudia El Baida near Tangiers by Compagnie Éolienne du Détroit under a licence agreement with the National Office of Electricity and Potable Water (Office National de l’ Electricité et de l’Eau Potable, ONEE).

This first step has been followed by the completion of two additional plants by ONEE in Essaouira (60 MW) and Tangiers (140 MW) in the 2000s – and a first private deal between Spanish company Gamesa and the cement company Lafarge in 2005 to equip its plant in Tetouan with 37-MW windmills.

However, Morocco’s wind market really took off following the implementation of Law No. 13-09, which paved the way for the liberalisation of high-voltage power generation. Since then, Moroccan company Nareva, subsidiary of the royal-family-owned Société Nationale d’Investissement, has risen rapidly to become the major player in the development of private wind energy projects. Its three wind farms at Akhfennir, Foul El Ouad and Houama have a combined capacity of 200 MW, with energy distributed via power purchase agreements (PPAs) with major companies, including Lafarge Maroc, Sonasid, OCP and Managem. More recently, 2014 saw Nareva complete a 300-MW wind farm near the southern Moroccan town of Tarfaya in conjunction with France’s Engie at a cost of over $500m. The wind farm was part of a 20-year electricity purchase agreement with ONEE.

Recent Developments

New projects in the pipeline include the upcoming development of a 150-MW wind farm in Taza under a PPA with ONEE by a consortium of EDF Énergies Nouvelles, Mitsui and Alstom. At the time of writing, the project had just reached financial closure and was expected to start construction in late 2016. Meanwhile, Moroccan power company TAQA Morocco, subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA), will begin constructing a 140-MW wind farm near Tangiers, with a 60-MW first phased scheduled to break ground in 2016.

UPC Renewables Morocco, a joint venture majority-owned by Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power Global Services, is also set to develop a 120-MW wind farm in Khalladi. Three major industrial clients will purchase 85% of the power output, while surplus will be sold to ONEE. The site is expected to be commissioned in late 2016 or early 2017. Lastly, Futuren is set to increase its capacity by 300 MW through doubling capacity at the Koudia El Baida site as well as the development of a new 200-MW wind farm in the vicinity of Tangiers.

Major Tender

In December 2015 ONEE awarded an 850-MW tender bid to a consortium led by Italy’s Enel Green Power alongside Nareva Holdings and Siemens Wind Power. Bids averaging $0.03 per KWh set a new record for low wind energy pricing globally. “This record is a result of Morocco’s exposure to Atlantic trade winds combined with a downward price movement in wind technologies and strong financial mechanisms”, Tawfik Laabi, strategy director at ONEE, told OBG. “The price of wind energy technologies have dropped by 15-20% since 2009. By comparison, wind projects are now cheaper than coal, where the price averages $65 per MWh,” he added.

The tender includes five projects: 150 MW in Tangiers, 300 MW in Tiskrad near Laayoune, 200 MW in Jbel Lahdid near Essaouira, 100 MW near Boujdour, and 100 MW at Midelt, 400 km east of Casablanca. Commissioning of the projects is expected in 2020.