Morocco leads the way for renewable energy in Africa
Morocco is leading the way for Africa when it comes to renewable energy. In the last year it has banned plastic bags, launched plans to extend tram networks, launched Africa’s first city cycle hire scheme and has started the process of replacing its fleet of old, high-emission buses and taxis.
Marrakech was also the host of the COP22 climate change conference and was keen to make it the ‘African COP’.
Morocco has no fossil fuel reserves so is almost entirely reliant on imports. In 2015 King Mohammed VI committed the country to increasing its share of renewable electricity generation to 52% by 2030. The plan is to install 10 gigawatts of new renewable energy sources with 14% of that coming from solar, the rest from wind and hydro-dams.
Morocco’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution plan is equally ambitious and commits the country to cutting greenhouse gas emissions – particularly in agriculture – by 32% by 2030.
The country has also committed to planting 200,000 hectares of forest and greatly increasing irrigation. The commitment is dependent on accessing climate financing, but translates to a cumulative reduction of 401 megatonnes of C02 over the period 2020-30.
The first stage of Morocco’s renewables push is the Noor solar complex, which opened in February 2016. Instead of photovoltaic solar panels, Noor uses concentrated solar power technology (CSP) where giant mirrors to reflect the sun’s rays on to tubes containing liquid which is super-heated to drive turbines. This kind of solar power offers storage of electricity for up to three hours after the sun has set, which covers peak demand times.
Morocco is also investing in wind. A consortium of Enel Green Power, Nareva (owned by King Mohammed VI’s investment company) and Siemens won a bid in March to build five new wind farms at different sites across Morocco. The combined capacity of these new wind farms will be 850MW, a huge increase that takes Morocco closer to its aims for 2020. The unit cost in the tender documents was one of the lowest in the world, at just $0.03 per kWh.
Close to the site of Noor One, Noor two, currently under construction, will use the same CSP technology, but on a bigger scale with the hope of storing electricity for seven hours. Noor Three however will use a new variant on CSP technology – the solar tower, where the mirrors are directed at a central point.
CSP also uses large amounts of water to keep the mirrors clean – a real problem in water-stressed Morocco. At the same time, Morocco has not totally kicked the fossil fuel habit – coal still makes up the biggest part of energy production today (35%) and is set to be expanded over the next five years. The new energy mix will include at least 3,900MW of energy from natural gas, and the search for hydrocarbon deposits on Moroccan soil continues.
Trafigura and Yara International explore clean ammonia usage
Reducing shipping emissions is a vital component of the fight against global climate change, yet Greenhouse Gas emissions from the global maritime sector are increasing - and at odds with the IMO's strategy to cut absolute emissions by at least 50% by 2050.
How more than 70,000 ships can decrease their reliance on carbon-based sources is one of transport's most pressing decarbonisation challenges.
Yara and Trafigura intend to collaborate on initiatives that will establish themselves in the clean ammonia value chain. Under the MoU announced today, Trafigura and Yara intend to work together in the following areas:
- The supply of clean ammonia by Yara to Trafigura Group companies
- Exploration of joint R&D initiatives for clean ammonia application as a marine fuel
- Development of new clean ammonia assets including marine fuel infrastructure and market opportunities
Magnus Krogh Ankarstrand, President of Yara Clean Ammonia, said the agreement is a good example of cross-industry collaboration to develop and promote zero-emission fuel in the form of clean ammonia for the shipping industry. "Building clean ammonia value chains is critical to facilitate the transition to zero emission fuels by enabling the hydrogen economy – not least within trade and distribution where both Yara and Trafigura have leading capabilities. Demand and supply of clean ammonia need to be developed in tandem," he said.
There is a growing consensus that hydrogen-based fuels will ultimately be the shipping fuels of the future, but clear and comprehensive regulation is essential, according to Jose Maria Larocca, Executive Director and Co-Head of Oil Trading for Trafigura.
Ammonia has a number of properties that require "further investigation," according to Wartsila. "It ignites and burns poorly compared to other fuels and is toxic and corrosive, making safe handling and storage important. Burning ammonia could also lead to higher NOx emissions unless controlled either by aftertreatment or by optimising the combustion process," it notes.
Trafigura has co-sponsored the R&D of MAN Energy Solutions’ ammonia-fuelled engine for maritime vessels, has performed in-depth studies of transport fuels with reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and has published a white paper on the need for a global carbon levy for shipping fuels to be introduced by International Maritime Organization.
Oslo-based Yara produces roughly 8.5 million tonnes of ammonia annually and employs a fleet of 11 ammonia carriers, including 5 fully owned ships, and owns 18 marine ammonia terminals with 580 kt of storage capacity – enabling it to produce and deliver ammonia across the globe.
It recently established a new clean ammonia unit to capture growth opportunities in emission-free fuel for shipping and power, carbon-free fertilizer and ammonia for industrial applications.