Morocco pushes for renewable energy, including hydro

The head of Morocco’s renewable energy program says the North African nation hopes to generate a fifth of its power from renewable sources, including new hydropower, by 2012 to reduce its reliance on costly energy imports.

The cost of energy imports rose 29 percent in the first quarter of 2006, causing Morocco’s trade deficit to widen by 17.3 percent from the same quarter of 2005. Therefore, the government is redoubling efforts to find oil, to end Morocco’s status as the only North African country with no fossil fuel production of its own.

But for now it hopes to better exploit the potential of its mountain rivers, blustery Atlantic and Mediterranean coastline, and sun-drenched interior.

“We must make the most of the natural resources we have,” Amal Haddouche, general manager of Morocco’s Renewable Energy Development Center, said. “We must increase the share of renewable energy in the total to 20 percent by 2012, including large-scale hydropower.”

The government has identified 200 new hydropower sites, and forest-fed biomass could become an important contributor, in addition to wind and solar power.

“Our targets would certainly put us ahead of all other North African countries in terms of the share of renewable energy,” Haddouche said.

Excluding hydropower, the renewables goal is 10 percent, according to government officials. The kingdom generates 7.6 percent of its energy from renewable sources including hydroelectric, wind, solar, and biomass technologies. But the vast majority is generated by fossil fuels.

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