A recently published report by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) ranks Morocco among the top 5 countries likely to emerge as global hubs for floating offshore wind, a technology that will experience unprecedented growth in the coming years.

Morocco's thriving offshore wind market has placed the North African kingdom first in Africa and the MENA region, according to GWEC, the leading wind energy monitoring institution.

After 30 years of growth, floating offshore wind is now a mature technology, whose deployment around the world is accelerating, GWEC highlights in its report entitled “Floating offshore wind, a global opportunity”.

“We are already seeing the emergence of floating offshore wind markets in several countries, including France, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the United Kingdom,” say the report's authors, who note that behind these mature markets, other countries are doing well. positioned to emerge as global floating offshore wind centres.

Thus, of the 115 countries examined by the GWEC, and after an initial selection of 30 countries considered to have high potential, five of them were highlighted by the authors of the report: Ireland, Italy, the Philippines, the United States (west coast) and Morocco. These five countries are considered the most equipped markets, from a technological and political point of view, to rapidly develop projects in the floating offshore wind sector and become global giants.

Highlighting Morocco's potential in wind energy, the council states that the country has a "significant resource and a government committed to renewable growth" and meets the seven criteria established by GWEC to measure countries' potential. These criteria include in particular technical capabilities, climatic and geographical conditions, and above all strong and ambitious public policies in terms of the development of renewable energies.

“Access to large wind resources, the existence and achievement of green project objectives and greater energy security are the main drivers of the development of floating offshore wind energy in Morocco,” explain the authors of the report.

Regarding wind resources, the GWEC reports that wind speeds off the Moroccan coast vary considerably, with winds as low as 5 m/s for the main cities of Casablanca and Rabat, while areas of the Strait of Gibraltar already Along the southern part of the Atlantic coast they have average wind speeds greater than 10 m/s.

“The largest area with access to high-speed winds is located off the southern Atlantic coast, where water depths drop sharply near the coast and generally range between 60 and 500 meters,” explains the GWEC.

In addition to the abundance of wind resources, Morocco can count on strong political will to achieve sustainable development goals and the use of renewable energy.

While Morocco's natural resources are an important factor in its positive performance on the energy front, the country's government has been instrumental with its continued show of significant willingness to set and achieve renewable energy goals, stress the report's authors, who recall that the Kingdom plans to add 4.2 GW capacity for wind energy by 2030.

Furthermore, the support mechanisms for green projects, which are based on public-private partnerships between operators and the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (MASEN), are favorable to the large-scale deployment of floating offshore wind projects. “These support mechanisms have worked well for onshore wind projects,” note the authors of the GWEC report.

The project authorization process is also presented by the GWEC. “The authorization process is managed by MASEN, which operates as a one-stop shop. This process feels smooth and fluid,” the report says.

Another asset of Morocco lies in its logistical capabilities: “Morocco has adequate ports near potentially attractive places, such as Agadir,” specify the authors of the report. The proximity of the sites on the Atlantic coast to the port of the capital of Souss, combined with important wind resources, should reduce production costs, making this energy more competitive.

The only drawback on the table: the power grid in southern Morocco lacks the capacity to manage large-scale extractions from future offshore wind farms, says the GWEC. He noted, however, that the National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE) has a network development plan for 2019-2023 that provides for investments to integrate renewable energies.

All of these assets are likely to make Morocco a major player in floating offshore wind, while growth forecasts for this market around the world are constantly revised upwards.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that floating offshore wind projects will need to increase 13-fold by 2030 worldwide to reach 80 GW of capacity by 2030. By 2050, this capacity must increase to 2,000 GW, to achieve the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

Morocco launched its first environmental plan in 2009, with the goal of supplying 42 % of the country's energy needs from renewable sources by 2020. The 2020 target was achieved and the government has set a new renewable energy target of 52 % by 2030.

While Morocco has yet to set targets for offshore wind farms, the country has an overall wind target set to increase national wind energy input to 1,000 megawatts (MW) by 2024, the GWEC report explained.

Starting in 2022, the coastal city of Tarfaya in southern Morocco will also be home to Africa's largest wind farm, with a capacity of 301 MW.

Source: The North Africa Courier