Neil Ford Reports on national and regional energy transition strategies in North Africa
Both Egypt and Morocco are advocating renewable energy as a pillar of future power generation expansion, while Tunisia is also managing to attract some renewable energy investments to its much smaller market. In Algeria, bureaucracy appears to be hampering the government’s enthusiasm for diversifying the generation mix. The ongoing conflict in Libya, despite its hydrocarbon resources and enormous solar potential, makes it an unlikely destination for investments in the energy sector in the short term.
The completion of three giant 4.8 GW gas plants by Siemens in late 2018 has significantly improved Egypt’s electricity situation, while the discovery of large gas reserves in Mediterranean waters has improved the country’s energy security. With that foundation, the government is focused on achieving its goal of 20% of all electricity generated from renewables and large hydro, including 12% from wind, 6% from hydro and 2% from solar, by 2022.
While Egypt’s first wind projects were funded by bilateral and multilateral institutions, the focus is now on the private sector for developing wind farms around the Red Sea and solar farms in the desert. Cairo has introduced feed-in tariffs for renewable energy projects financially supported by the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency.
With the completion of the Benban solar park, national solar power production increased to 2.4 billion kWh last year, which practically ensured that the country’s short-term solar target would be exceeded. In this decade, the share of solar energy in the generation mix is likely to increase rapidly. The government’s longer-term target for renewable energy plus hydropower is 42% of total electricity generation by 2035. Cairo hopes to achieve this at the same time as the phasing out of electricity subsidies under its IMF-backed economic reform program.
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) says Egypt could be more ambitious and aim for 53% renewable energy by 2030, but needs to simplify its bureaucratic procedures. It is also noted that the country has the opportunity to develop its own photovoltaic (PV) production capacity.
Rabat is making strides to expand the energy mix
Morocco continues its policy of focusing on renewable energies to improve energy security and the government also wants to boost large electricity exports to Europe.
Rabat has pledged to generate 52% of the country’s total electricity from renewable sources by 2030, up from 35% today, to reinforce its long-term strategy to reduce reliance on hydrocarbon imports. This would be a huge change from the situation in 2009 when 90% of electricity generation was dependent on hydrocarbons.
The country is a leading developer of concentrated solar energy (CSP). The 580 MW Ouarzazate plant is already in operation and is to be expanded further. However, the balance between concentrated solar CSP and PV in the future Moroccan energy mix will depend on comparative construction costs and the rate at which the cost of battery storage is falling.
CSP involves heating liquids using sunlight focused by mirrors to create steam for turbines – a process that can continue to generate electricity for several hours after sunset to meet the evening peak in residential demand. PV can do a similar job when coupled to batteries – a combination that is emerging in some markets as large battery storage systems become more economical.
Algeria is struggling to get the sun moving
Algeria is still dependent on the generation of thermal power and in January awarded a contract to a consortium led by Hyundai to build a new 1.3 GW gas power plant.
Now, after several false starts, attempts are being made again to secure investments in solar energy. The Algerian Commission for Electricity and Gas Regulation launched a tender for 150 MW of solar capacity last year, but ultimately only a single contract for 50 MW was signed, despite 93 bidders pre-qualified and five shortlisted.
The successful bidder was the Power Generation consortium led by the Algerian company Condor, which is developing the project in the Biskra region. The entire power was sold under a PPA at $ 0.069 / kWh. It was reported that maximum bid prices were not announced until the day the bidding process was due to close. Foreign investors may also have been deterred by requirements for working with local partners and sourcing local components. Currently, the country is far from meeting its ambitious goals of securing 13.6 GW of solar capacity and 8.4 GW of other renewable energies by 2030.
On the subject of matching items
Kenya and Ethiopia are leading the energy transition in East Africa
South Africa’s energy problems are triggering a rethink among the neighbors
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