Prospects for wind energy in Africa

65 MW Amogdoul Wind Farm, Essaouira (Photo: Wikimedia commons)

Energy is a strategic element for economic development. Morocco is still heavily dependent on imports of energy, more than 90%. Morocco decided to reduce its dependence on energy imports by adopting a strategy in 2009 to increase renewable energy’s share in installed electrical power to 52% by 2030. Morocco’s strategic location makes it an ideal electrical hub between Africa and Europe.

Morocco’s top priority is to achieve energy security, particularly in light of the current situation, which is characterized by high prices for petroleum products worldwide and its impact on the national electricity bill due to the war between Russia, Ukraine, and other conflicts.

Morocco’s establishment of a proper legislative, regulatory, institutional framework has made it possible to build renewable energy projects. Morocco continues updating this framework in order to make the sector more attractive for private investment. Morocco is now a leader in Africa’s renewable energy sector, along with Egypt and South Africa.

Morocco has also developed an integrated water desalination programme with power plants supported by renewable energy production units. There is also an ongoing preparation for a marine energy road map.

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The south of Morocco is blessed with an exceptional source for renewable energy. Over the next decade, a large number of wind projects will be developed.

The south of Morocco is blessed with an exceptional source of renewable electricity and will see the development of large numbers of wind projects over the next decade. Transporting this energy to the consumption centers requires reinforcement of the 400kV alternating power network in southern Morocco, and subsequent increase in transit capacity. This will allow for the transfer of electricity produced by renewable source projects to the national electricity grid.

Mauritania’s increasing electricity consumption has prompted it take a greater interest in the development and production of electricity from renewable resources. Wind technologies have been given a target of 129MW by 2030.

Since 1997, the Moroccan electricity grid has been connected to the Spanish homologous. The continental link with the Mauritanian will form a model regional integration which will alter the characteristics Atlantic Africa’s.

Mauritania has similar wind resources to southern Morocco, mainly because of its northern coast zone. The installed wind power in Mauritania amounts to 34.4MW. The renewable energy project, which includes wind power, is a model of integration of South of Morocco with North of Mauritania.

The 100 MW Wind Farm of Akhfennir 2 Morocco (Courtesy Nareva)

The characteristics of wind speed and evaluation of wind potential at a site are affected by the measurement step and duration. For Tangier, North-West Morocco, it was shown that there is a minimum period of nine years that can be considered for hourly measurements. This allows for four measurements per day (0h-6h, 12h, and 18h), which is sufficient to accurately estimate wind speed (Histograms), frequencies, daily, and monthly variations, etc.).

The North of Mauritania has similar wind resources to the South of Morocco, mainly for the coast zone.

August and July are the windiest months in Laayoune, and Dakhla respectively, with monthly averages at 7.67m/s & 10.12m/s. For Laâyoune, the maximum speed is 34 m/s, while it is 27 m/s for Dakhla. The Dakhla site experiences more variation in wind speed. Lagouira’s June is windiest month. For 27 days, the average wind speed is between 7.9m/s and 10.7m/s. It is only 5 days for December, which is the windiest month. Therefore, 19 days have an average wind speed of between 5.4 m/s to 7.9 m/s.

The wind blows strong during the day, reaching its peak around 4 p.m. local time, and then weakening at night for most sites. This phenomenon can be explained primarily by the influence from the gradual rise of temperature along the Atlantic coast, which causes local winds (sea/land wind), which are also added to the winds coming from the Azores.

The sites of Dakhla, southern Morocco, and Nouadhibou, northern Mauritania have greater wind potential. A 100MW wind farm is planned. For Dakhla, at an altitude of 10m, the annual average of available wind potential is the highest (P=462 W/m2), almost double that of Laâyoune and four times that of Tan Tan.

In 2021, Morocco will have 1350 MW of wind power. More than 60% (757.3MW) of this wind power is located in the south. Tarfaya windfarm 301.3 MW was built in 2014 and is the largest in Morocco and Africa. The installed wind power in Mauritania stands at 34.4MW. Nouakchott was the first to be built with a 4.4MW park in 2011.

Wind energy is an alternative source of energy that can be used to generate electricity, and it is competitively priced for the North of Mauritania and the South of Morocco.

The renewable energy project, which includes windpower, is a model of integration for southern Morocco and northern Mauritania. The development of wind power has significant economic and social consequences for northern Mauritania and southern Morocco, and in the context advanced regionalization, can play the role of a true development pole.