Morocco’s commitment in hydroelectric energy
Less mediatized than wind and solar energies, hydroelectric energy has, however, a prime position in the development of renewable energies in Morocco. Furthermore, many projects have been initiated in the sector since the launch of the National Energy Program. A close-up focus is dedicated to the achievements and the shortage for a functional hydroelectric sector.
Today, Morocco displays an ambitious objective through its energy plan which states that by 2020, renewable energies will represent 42% of the energy production of Morocco. So, why do we have to rely on hydraulic energy knowing that there is a huge potential in solar or wind energies?
Hydroelectricity constitutes reliable, durable and clean energy that agrees perfectly upon the national strategy within the green economy. Moreover, the Kingdom of Morocco is aware of its hydraulic potential and the fact that it’ll become the natural and durable alternative, capable of transmitting solar and wind energies during peak periods. In addition, this alternative takes place to guarantee a constant production all day long without the chances of solar or wind energies’ hazards. Thanks to water resources, it is possible to foresee levels of productions with a great accuracy, ensuring a real investment security. Within a purely technology plan, hydropower had seen light for a long time and there are finally few innovations to make: That is its strength. Techniques are known, the industry is mature and the products are proven to be robust.
Morocco is aware of the importance of hydraulics in the production of electricity; where a national plan is implemented in order to promote the Moroccan Hydroelectric Sector. As a matter of fact, this plan includes the strengthening of the hydroelectric park as part of the policy of the big dams launched since the 1960s, the introduction of STEP (Pumped Energy Transfer Stations) so as to control the operation of the production park through the medium of the new energy strategy and the introduction of micro-hydropower plants. By 2020, this plan intends to reach an installed capacity of 2280 MW against 580 MW recently.
Inclusion of Pumped Energy Transfer Stations to pay off the electricity deficit during peak periods.
In recent times, there is a renewed interest in all forms of energy storage and STEP responds perfectly to this need of massive storage according to CEDRIC PHILIBERT, Expert within the Department of Renewable Energies at the International Energy Agency. In order to improve technical and economic conditions of operating the means of production and transport network, the National Electricity Bureau entered into a program of sites identification, study and building of Pumped Energy Transfer Stations (STEP) with a view to including them in its network.
In fact, this system will allow Morocco to smooth out fluctuations of the production of wind and solar energies and quickly meet the possible consumption peaks. Also, the projects STEP Abdeloumen, located about 70 km in the Northeast of Agadir (in the province of TAROUDANT) and El Menzel in the North of the country are both in that context. These two STEP projects are envisaged to strengthen STEP Afourer that was commissioned by the French Company “Alstom” and implemented at the end of 2004. Today, STEP Afourer has a capacity of 460 MW, equivalent to a coal-fired power plant.
Hence, the objective of the National Electricity Bureau is to build up a balanced energy portfolio with STEP because the partnership of STEP and renewable energies offers much stability in the network supplying.
Still in order to reinforce hydroelectricity, the country relies also on the inclusion of micro-hydro plants in its energy mix. Besides, Morocco has just a first micro-hydro plant.