Six hundred “green mosques” are to be created in Morocco by March 2019 in a national consciousness-raising initiative that aims to speed the country’s journey to clean energy.
If all goes to plan, the green revamp will see LED lighting, solar thermal water heaters and photovoltaic systems installed in 100 mosques by the end of this year.
Morocco’s ministry of Islamic affairs is underwriting the innovative scheme, paying up to 70% of the initial investment costs in a partnership with the German government.
Jan-Christophe Kuntze, the project’s chief, said: “We want to raise awareness and mosques are important centres of social life in Morocco. They are a place where people exchange views about all kinds of issues including, hopefully, why renewables and energy efficiency might be a good idea.”
Morocco has established itself as a regional climate leader with high-profile projects, ranging from the largest windfarm in Africa to an enormous solar power plant in the Sahara desert, which opened earlier this year.
In November, Marrakech will host the COP22 climate summit to discuss preparations for implementing the Paris climate agreement.
The country’s environment minister, Hakima el-Haité, told the Guardian that religion could make a powerful contribution to the clean energy debate, shortly before an Islamic declaration on climate change last year.
“It is very important for Muslim countries to come back to their traditions and remind people that we are miniscule as humans before the importance of the earth,” she said. “We need to protect it, and to save humankind in the process.”
The new green mosques project plans to do this with established technologies that can be adapted to public buildings and residential homes. By training electricians, technicians and auditors, it hopes to direct Morocco’s clean energy along the path followed by German’s Energiewende, (energy transition).
But Kuntze stressed that Germany was offering technological support, rather than financial opportunities for its own industries.
“We are not representing any German business interests at all,” he said. “The good thing about this project is that the Moroccan government came up with the idea themselves. It is something new and really innovative and it has not been tried anywhere else before, to my knowledge.”
The initiative has broken new ground for gender equality in Morocco too. Many mourchidates (female clerics) have been involved in the project, as well as imams, and about a quarter of the participants in recent seminars have been women, Kuntze said.
Under the project’s energy service contract model, contractors will eventually be paid by the energy savings generated from the clean power systems they install. As the renovations should cut the mosques’ electricity usage by 40%, these should be substantial.
The first 100 mosques to get a green makeover are mostly based in big population centres – such as Rabat, Fez, Marrakech and Casablanca – but the project will quickly move on to smaller villages and towns. With 15,000 mosques dotted around the north African country, the idea’s growth potential is clear.
The objective was to kickstart a renovations industry for sustainable companies that could employ many Moroccans in the clean energy sector, Kuntze said.
Earn valuable CPD credits
South Africa is Africa’s clean energy frontrunner. Since 2011, it has invested R249 billion in wind and solar technology.
We are followed by Morocco, which has spent R64 billion, and Kenya, which has spent R37.3 billion.
This emerged at a talk by Michael Liebreich, chair of the advisory board at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a leading provider of information on clean energy to investors, energy companies and governments. He addressed a packed auditorium during African Utility Week at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
Around the world, R5.1 trillion has been invested in renewable energy – including wind and solar technology – following the crash of oil and gas prices.
He started the talk by quoting business mogul Bill Gates, who said in November last year that “we need an energy miracle”. Gates committed $2 billion (R31 billion) of his own fortune to research and development into clean energy.
During discussions on global energy trends, Liebreich stressed that clean energy investment was on the rise, and that wind and solar energy would continue to become cheaper to introduce.
He admitted that changing to clean energy was like rebuilding the engine of an aeroplane in mid-flight. “In Africa, it’s even more difficult. Here, you’re attempting to rebuild the engine when you’re taking off. That’s a great challenge.”
He said African countries had clean energy investment potential, but creditworthiness of utilities remained a challenge.
“In terms of investment, a lot of work is yet to be done by African governments on the creditworthiness of utilities,” he said.
Liebreich lauded the launch of South Africa-born US entrepreneur Elon Musk’s latest electric car, the Tesla Model 3. He called it a clean energy “miracle”, a “game-changer and the most successful technology launch of all time”.
The car had attracted about 276 000 orders, worth almost $12 billion, he said.
University of Cape Town professor and energy expert Anton Eberhard took to the podium after Liebreich and said renewable energy could not be ignored.
“Renewable energy is breaking through in a way traditional power utilities cannot ignore any longer. Due to their variability, renewables are not suitable for base load generation, but they are becoming cheaper and we’ll have to maximise their contribution to the grid.”
Rabat – Lahcen Haddad, the Moroccan minister of tourism will propose the adoption of what he calls the “African Charter for Sustainable Tourism” during his visit to the Ivory Coast for a continental tourism conference this week, a government communique obtained by Morocco World News said.
Haddad landed in Abidjan on Tuesday to attend the 58th edition of the annual conference of the African Commission for the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), according to the international organization’s website. Government officials and private stakeholders in African tourism will be present at the event ending on April 21st to discuss “accelerating the shift towards sustainable consumption and production patterns” and a 10-year framework of programs (10YFP) to achieve associated goals.
The Moroccan minister expects the sustainability pact to be signed “on the sidelines” of the COP22 climate to be held in Marrakech in November.
In January, Morocco adopted a draft charter on sustainable tourism during the first edition of the “Moroccan Day of Sustainable and Responsible Tourism” in Rabat.
“The proposal embodies the positioning of our country as a tourism sustainability leader in the region,” Hadded said in the communique.
During the ongoing meetings, world leaders will also discuss the implementation of the mission of the international organization Sustainable Tourism – Eliminating Poverty Initiative (ST-EP), which was born in Johannesburg in 2002 as part of the World Summit on Sustainable Development.
Emphasis will also be placed on the detriments of tourism development in the African continent to make sure the process occurs at an environmentally safe level, the minister’s release said.
“Hence, the need for strong cooperation focused on increased ownership in consumption patterns and sustainable production with greater distribution of wealth between the northern parts of the continent and the southern ones.”
Eleven years after the world summit in South Africa, over 35 countries had expressed interest in becoming founding members of ST-EP and hosting regional offices for the organization in the country, though little news of the opening of new offices have been reported since the original show of interest.
Last December, the U.N. declared a resolution naming 2017 as the “International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.”
Tourism represents an important source of income for African nations due to the inflow of foreign currency it generates, which grows the countries’ GDPs and creates new employment opportunities.
Critics, notably from the U.N,’s own environmental division – suggest that an emphasis on tourism makes impoverished countries dependent on the well-being of developed economies, as tightly-budgeted families are less likely to go on vacation.
According to the division’s statistics, poorer countries in Africa rely on tourism to generate income for the survival of their people. Gambia, for instance, utilizes 30 percent of its workforce to provide services and goods directly and indirectly related to its expected visitors.
Numbers describing the continent as a whole say vacationers’ economic hold on Africa will remain the same in the coming decade. A 2015 report by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) said it expects the industry it represents to make-up over six percent of Africa’s total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2025 – not a significant change from the report’s slightly lower estimate for 2015, which was also just above six percent of GDP.
A Morocco-specific analysis by the WTTC in 2015 said the tourism industry’s share in the national economy would stagnate at just below 18 percent from 2014 to 2025.
(CNN)It may be famous for its meandering medinas and the scenic Atlas Mountains, but Morocco might soon make its name as a solar superpower.
The north-western African nation is building the world’s biggest concentrated solar power plant, which will supply electricity to 1.1 million Moroccans by 2018, according to the World Bank.
The plant is being constructed in a 30 square kilometer area outside the city of Ouarzazate, on the fringe of the Sahara desert, famous as the filming location of Hollywood blockbusters like “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Gladiator,” and the TV series “Game of Thrones.”
The first phase, titled Noor 1, will be operational in the next few weeks, according to officials.
“Morocco stands at the forefront of climate-friendly policies in the region,” Inger Andersen, World Bank Regional Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa, says in a report.
“The country is well positioned to benefit from its head-start at a time when other regional powers are beginning to think more seriously about their own renewable energy programs,” he adds.
Energy even at night
The Noor complex will use a technology called Concentrating Solar Power (CSP), which is more expensive to install than the widely used photovoltaic panels, but unlike them, allows to store energy for nights and cloudy days.
It uses mirrors to focus the sun’s light and heat up a liquid, which is mixed with water and reaches a temperature close to 400 degrees Celsius. This produces steam, which in turn drives a turbine to generate electrical power.
It’s hoped that the project, whose construction was officially launched by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI in 2013, will reduce carbon emissions by 700,000 tons per year and even generate an energy surplus for exports.
Morocco heavily depends on fossil fuel imports at the moment, which currently provide over 97% of its energy, making the country vulnerable to their fluctuating price.
An unreliable supply of electricity causes daily obstacles to lives of tens of thousands of people in Morocco’s rural areas — from flickering light bulbs to malfunctioning hospital equipment.
To tackle the problem, the country is hoping to install enough diverse clean-energy plants to meet42% of its demand for power, including 14% from solar, by 2020.
The African nation already hosts the Turfaya wind farm which, with 131 turbines, is the largest on the continent, and it is rapidly becoming a mainstream market for renewable energy investment according to Ernst and Young. The Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy was established in 2010 to spearhead new and ongoing projects.
Gateway to Africa
“There is a very strategic sense in Morocco of diversifying energy sources,” says energy specialist, Roger Coma-Cunill in a World Bank blog, “and a clear sense, with all these targets to reach by 2020, of adding to a green growth plan and being a model for Africa. Morocco is trying to be a gateway to Africa – that’s part of this endeavor,” he adds.
A lack of reliable power has long been Africa’s Achilles heel, blamed for stunting the continent’s development.
Only 24% of population in Sub-Saharan Africa have access to electricity, which is the worst rate in the world. Excluding South Africa, the region’s entire installed generation capacity is equivalent to that of Argentina.
In rural areas connectivity falls even lower to 5% in Kenya, 4% in Mali and just 2% in Ethiopiaaccording to the African Development Bank.