COP22: Here comes the sun

The Noor 1 Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant, 12.5 miles outside Ouarzazate The Noor 1 Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant, 12.5 miles outside Ouarzazate Fadel Senna / AFP / Getty Images
07 Nov
2016
Last year, the UNFCCC Paris Agreement was hailed as ‘historic’ after its signing at COP21 in Paris. Today sees attendees to COP22 convening in Morocco, a country where transitioning to renewable energy has become a primary national objective

This year, the UN Climate Change Conference, COP22, moves to Marrakech in Morocco, where a National Energy Strategy enshrined into law in 2009 set a target of achieving 42 per cent installed renewable energy capacity by 2020. Last year, feeling even more ambitious, they further extended the goal to achieving 52 per cent by 2030.

‘This would lead to a significant decrease in the country’s carbon dioxide emissions, compared to the business-as-usual trajectory,’ explains Boris Schinke, Senior Advisor on Energy and Development for Germanwatch, publisher of the annual Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI). Morocco was placed an impressive tenth in the world in the 2016 CCPI, behind only Denmark, the UK, Sweden, Belgium, France and Cyprus (the top three slots remained empty, a symbolic indicator of the need for all countries to be more ambitious).

The whole idea behind the energy strategy is to build up new job opportunities for the population

Projects to achieve this goal include developing the world’s largest concentrated solar farm in Ouarzazate, which will eventually add up to 580MW of installed solar capacity, capable of providing electricity for more than one million Moroccans, as well as the 301MW Tarfaya wind farm, the largest in Africa. ‘Morocco really goes big,’ emphasises Schinke. ‘One of the main success stories is the engagement in rural electrification. In 1995, only 18 per cent of the population had access to electricity; this has increased to almost 100 per cent. It’s achieved this by expanding the grid and implementing decentralised solar systems.’ This includes the ‘Green Mosques’ program, converting all of Morocco’s 15,000 mosques to solar power.

The driving force behind this renewable vision is Morocco’s king, Mohammed VI, who spoke passionately to world leaders in Paris last year about ‘the devastating effects of global warming on the planet and of the urgent need to match words with deeds’. Morocco is especially susceptible to climate change, with intense droughts, desertification, and shrinking water tables. Yet Schinke argues that the primary purpose behind the ambitious energy strategy is less on reducing emissions, and more as a development tool. ‘Morocco is very dependent on foreign energy imports; up to 97 per cent of its energy mix comes from foreign sources,’ he explains. ‘By increasing the renewable capacities, it envisions decreasing its energy import dependency, and at the same time creating local value chains in the wind and solar industries. This is the whole idea behind the energy strategy – to build up new job opportunities for the population.’

This was published in the November 2016 edition of Geographical magazine.

Share this story...

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to Twitter

Related items

Leave a comment

ONLY registered members can leave comments and each comment is held pending authorisation before publishing. Please login or register to voice your opinion.

EMAIL NEWSLETTER

Get the best stories from Geographical delivered straight to your inbox each week.

Subscribe Today

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth UniversityUniversity of GreenwichThe University of Winchester

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

DOSSIERS

Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • REDD+ or Dead?
    The UN-backed REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) scheme, under which developing nations would be paid not to cut dow...
    The true cost of meat
    As one of the world’s biggest methane emitters, the meat industry has a lot more to concern itself with than merely dietary issues ...
    Long live the King
    It is barely half a century since the Born Free story caused the world to re-evaluate humanity’s relationship with lions. A few brief decades later,...
    London: a walk in the park
    In the 2016 London Mayoral election, the city’s natural environment was high on the agenda. Geographical asks: does the capital has a green future, ...
    The Money Trail
    Remittance payments are a fundamental, yet often overlooked, part of the global economy. But the impact on nations receiving the money isn’t just a ...

MORE DOSSIERS

NEVER MISS A STORY - follow Geographical

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in NATURE...

Geophoto

This winter has seen frequent storms and flooding hitting many…

Wildlife

The bison, Poland’s symbol of nature conservation, already faces controversial…

Wildlife

Wolves have arrived at a wildlife park in Devon as…

Climate

An unassuming beach in Denmark is absorbing record-breaking levels of…

Energy

The environmental cost of military activities is significant. Could new…

Wildlife

Latest figures suggest that there are more than twice as…

Tectonics

How does the proposed allocation of ‘Zealandia’ as an independent…

Wildlife

Is extinction forever? While most would assume that yes, extinction…

Geophoto

Wide-angle photography is perhaps the best way to recreate the…

Wildlife

New book aims to follow in the success of last…

Wildlife

With Queensland koala numbers in free-fall, a novel idea suggests…

Climate

Geographical’s regular look at the world of climate change. This…

Tectonics

Fears that volcano eruptions in Iceland are set to regularly…

Oceans

Now we can all experience diving to the deepest point…

Wildlife

The new President of the United States has a namesake…

Geophoto

17,000 photographs from over 50 countries have been whittled down…

Wildlife

Red squirrels are found to be afflicted with a stubborn…

Polar

The toll, as a response to melting sea ice, would…

Climate

Could rail be the sustainable long-distance freight transport the world…

Energy

Abandoned oil and gas wells in the US are leaking significant…