Masdar and Morocco’s Office National de l'Electricité et de l'Eau Potable (ONEE) have signed a partnership to design, supply and install 17,670 Solar Home Systems across 940 villages in the Kingdom of Morocco. When complete, the solar homes, along with broader electrification initiatives, will result in 99 percent of rural Morocco having access to energy by the end of 2017 – a critical resource that underpins economic development.
H.E Dr. Sultan Ahmad Al Jaber, UAE minister of state and chairman of Masdar, and Ali Fassi-Fihri, director general of ONEE, signed the agreement in Casablanca, Morocco.
“The UAE has longstanding bilateral ties with Morocco, and this project reflects our commitment to work together to enhance economic and social opportunity,” said H.E Dr. Sultan Ahmad Al Jaber, UAE minister of state and chairman of Masdar. “We look forward to working with our strategic partners to complete this project and demonstrate the positive impact of improving access to energy through solar power.”
The project is funded through a grant by the Abu Dhabi government – reflecting the United Arab Emirates’ strong bond and historic relationship with the Kingdom of Morocco.
Regarding the rural electrification project with Masdar, Ali Fassi-Fihri, director general of ONEE, said “This project fits perfectly with the strategy of the Moroccan Government for the development of rural areas through the achievement of basic infrastructure.
“Rural electrification through Solar Home Systems is part of an ambitious program launched by the Moroccan Government in 1996, which allowed access by connecting to the national grid more than 12 million people and equipped 51,559 homes with solar systems,” said Ali Fassi-Fihri. “This effort has greatly contributed to improving the living conditions of rural populations, especially those concerned by the National Initiative for Human Development.
“The development of renewable energy is one of the most important economic policies of the government of Morocco,” said Ali Fassi-Fihri. “In fact, the government is committed to securing 42 percent of nation’s energy from renewable sources by 2020.Working closely with Masdar, we will electrify our rural communities, spur economic growth, create jobs and take an important step toward energy security.”
The Solar Home Systems are being delivered by Masdar Special Projects – a division of Masdar Clean Energy – that has expertise in deploying renewable energy solutions to remote, rural communities, often under challenging conditions.
Masdar and ONEE will work closely to design, supply, install and commission the Solar Home Systems. For an initial two-year period, Masdar will provide maintenance and operational training, a responsibility which ONEE will take over and maintain.
Each Solar Home System consists of 290-watt solar panels, which charge two batteries with sufficient storage capacity for three days. To maximize the economic and social impact of the project, Masdar and ONEE will seek locally sourced materials and employ local contractors for the installation and maintenance of the solar systems.
Morocco is an early adopter of renewable energy. With ambitious clean-energy targets, and large solar and wind power potential, Morocco is one of the Middle East and North Africa’s most promising markets. In fact, the government aims to install 2 gigawatts of solar energy by 2020, which will represent 14 percent of the country’s total installed capacity.
“Today, Masdar is able to tailor and deliver renewable-energy solutions that satisfy the complex challenges of remote, rural locations,” said Dr. Al Jaber. “From the Pacific to Africa, Masdar has a strong track record of integrating wind and solar projects that often have transformative, positive effects for the community.”
Masdar’s large-scale projects include London Array – the largest offshore wind farm in the world – and the Dudgeon wind farm, a 402-megawatt project underway in the United Kingdom. In the Middle East, Masdar is working to deliver the 117-megawatt Tafila onshore wind farm in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and a 50-megawatt wind farm in the Sultanate of Oman. Some of Masdar’s small-scale projects include a 6-megawatt wind farm in the Republic of Seychelles, the delivery of 600 solar-home systems in Afghanistan and a 500-kilowatt solar photovoltaic power plant in the Kingdom of Tonga.