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Renewable Energy as a Vector for the Strengthening of Technical and Financial Cooperation in the Euro-Mediterranean Region: The Case of Morocco
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Author
Luigi Limone, Università degli Studi di Napoli "L'Orientale", 2015-16
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Academic area
Social and Political Sciences
Abstract
The future of energy security in the Mediterranean region relies on the deployment and development of renewable energy sources. Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries (SEMCs) are endowed with a huge solar and wind energy potential. Tapping into this potential could bring various benefits to the Mediterranean region, such as meeting the rising energy demand at a lower cost, reducing energy bills in importing countries, creating new jobs, alleviating energy poverty, improving the quality of the environment as well as enhancing cooperation both among the SEMCs and between the SEMCs and the European Union. Given its need to import over 80% of its oil and over 60% of its natural gas, the European Union has been facing growing competition for fossil fuel resources over the last few decades. As a result, a new directive on the development of renewable energy was adopted in 2009 with the aim of establishing a common European framework for the promotion of renewable sources of energy. With this objective in mind, the European Commission is currently looking into the strategic importance of the Southern Mediterranean regarding both energy supply and energy transit through the region. However, the Mediterranean basin continues to lag far behind most other regions in the world in terms of solar and wind energy deployment.
Morocco is a pioneer among Southern Mediterranean countries in establishing a policy for the promotion of renewable energy and energy efficiency. In order to face an almost total dependence on imported fossil fuels, the country adopted in 2009 a new energy strategy aiming to strengthen the role of alternative sources of energy, mainly solar and wind power, in the national energy mix. As a consequence, a new regulatory framework for the promotion of renewable energy was introduced and two major initiatives were launched in order to reach the national target of increasing the share of renewable energy in the national energy consumption to 42% in 2020.
In Morocco as well as globally, the energy sector is one of the major drivers of climate change and socio-economic inequalities. The transition towards renewable energy could bring a number of wide ranging benefits in environmental, economic and social terms. In addition to promoting energy security and reducing the national energy bill, renewable energy deployment can help Morocco mitigate the effects of climate change on its national economy, alleviate poverty and social inequalities especially in rural areas, benefit the local economy through the creation of new jobs, boost social development and community participation as well as benefit human health. With the adoption of the new energy strategy, the portion covered by renewable energies should go up to 42%, thus reducing the role of fossil fuels to 58% of the national capacity for power generation. This percentage should be composed by an equal contribution of the three most relevant non-conventional sources of energy. The government of Morocco has succeeded in establishing a new regulatory framework, with the adoption of new laws and the creation of new institutional and financial institutions in order to reorganize the national energy sector, provide it with an appropriate system of governance and put a national scheme for the implementation of renewable energy projects into practice.
The present study seeks to determine whether and to what extent Morocco’s transition towards renewable energy and energy efficiency could reinforce the strategic role of the country within a renovated Euro-Mediterranean system in which the countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean are becoming increasingly important to European countries for the definition of common strategies to face current socio-economic and environmental challenges.
By outlining the main aspects of the Moroccan energy strategy, this study therefore aims to explore the potentialities of a EU-Morocco energy partnership based on renewable energies. With its advanced legal framework regulating the energy sector and its large-scale projects for electricity production from renewable sources, especially solar energy, Morocco has in fact the potential to contribute to the satisfaction of the European energy needs. The EU-Morocco energy partnership would bring benefits to both sides and would ultimately contribute to the strengthening of a more inclusive and egalitarian regional partnership mainly based on financial support and technical assistance.
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