Agricultural Scenario in MENA

Agriculture plays an important role in the economies of most of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa.  The contribution of the agricultural sector to the overall economy varies significantly among countries in the region, ranging from about 3.2 percent in Saudi Arabia to 13.4 percent in Egypt.  Large scale irrigation is expanding, enabling intensive production of high value cash and export crops, including fruits, vegetables, cereals, and sugar.

Egypt is the 14th biggest rice producer in the world and the 8th biggest cotton producer in the world. Egypt produced about 5.67 million tons of rice and 635,000 tons of cotton in 2011. The area of cotton crop cultivation accounts for about 5% of the cultivated area in Egypt. The total amount of crop residues is about 16 million tons of dry matter per year. Cotton residues represent about 9% of the total amount of residues. These are materials comprising mainly cotton stalks, which present a disposal problem.

Although the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is widely thought of as a desert, it has regions where the climate has favored agriculture. By implementing major irrigations projects and adopting large scale mechanization, Saudi Arabia has made great progress in developing agricultural sector. The Kingdom has achieved self-sufficiency in the production of wheat, eggs, and milk, among other commodities, though it still imports the bulk of its food needs. Wheat is the primary cultivated grain, followed by sorghum and barley. Dates, melons, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, and squash are also important crops.

Despite the fact that MENA is the most water-scarce and dry region worldwide, many countries across the region, especially those around the Mediterranean Sea, are highly dependent on agriculture.  For example, the Oum Er Rbia River basin contains half of Morocco’s public irrigated agriculture and produces 60 percent of its sugar beets, 40 percent of its olives, and 40 percent of its milk.

Agricultural output is central to the Tunisian economy. Major crops are cereals and olive oil, with almost half of all the cultivated land sown with cereals and another third planted. Tunisia is one of the world's biggest producers and exporters of olive oil, and it exports dates and citrus fruits that are grown mostly in the northern parts of the country.

Agriculture in Lebanon is the third most important sector in the country after the tertiary and industrial sectors. It contributes nearly 7% to GDP and employs around 15% of the active population. Main crops include cereals (mainly wheat and barley), fruits and vegetables, olives, grapes, and tobacco, along with sheep and goat herding.

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Agricultural Biomass in MENA

 

Agriculture plays an important role in the economies of most of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa region.  Despite the fact that MENA is the most water-scarce and dry region in the world, many countries in the region, especially those around the Mediterranean Sea, are highly dependent on agriculture.  The contribution of the agricultural sector to the overall economy varies significantly among countries in the region, ranging, for example, from about 3.2 percent in Saudi Arabia to 13.4 percent in Egypt.  Large scale irrigation coupled with mechanization has enabled entensive production of high-value cash crops, including fruits, vegetables, cereals, and sugar in the Middle East.

The term ‘crop residues’ covers the whole range of biomass produced as by-products from growing and processing crops. Crop residues encompasses all agricultural wastes such as bagasse, straw, stem, stalk, leaves, husk, shell, peel, pulp, stubble, etc. Wheat and barley are the major staple crops grown in the Middle East region. In addition, significant quantities of rice, maize, lentils, chickpeas, vegetables and fruits are produced throughout the region, mainly in Egypt, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Jordan. 

Egypt is the one of world's biggest producer of rice and cotton and produced about 5.67 million tons of rice and 635,000 tons of cotton in 2011. Infact, crop residues are considered to be the most important and traditional source of domestic fuel in rural Egypt. The total amount of crop wastes in Egypt is estimated at about 16 million tons of dry matter per year. Cotton residues represent about 9% of the total amount of residues. These are materials comprising mainly cotton stalks, which present a disposal problem. The area of cotton crop cultivation accounts for about 5% of the cultivated area in Egypt.

Agricultural output is central to the Tunisian economy. Major crops are cereals and olive oil, with almost half of all the cultivated land sown with cereals and another third planted. Tunisia is one of the world's biggest producers and exporters of olive oil, and it exports dates and citrus fruits that are grown mostly in the northern parts of the country.

To sum up, large quantities of crop residues are produced annually in the region, and are vastly underutilised. Current farming practice is usually to plough these residues back into the soil, or they are burnt, left to decompose, or grazed by cattle. These residues could be processed into liquid fuels or thermochemically processed to produce electricity and heat in rural areas. Energy crops, such as Jatropha, can be successfully grown in arid regions for biodiesel production. Infact, Jatropha is already grown at limited scale in some Middle East countries and tremendous potential exists for its commercial exploitation.

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Sustainability in MENA Cement Industry

The population in the MENA countries has doubled during the last 30 years (from ca. 110m in 1980 to almost 220m in 2010). As per conservative estimates, the rate of urbanisation in the MENA countries will exceed 70% five years from today (average for all developing countries: 54%). The proceeding urbanisation and the population increase involve several problems and challenges for the national governments and also for the cement industry. The cement production of countries in the MENA region has almost tripled during the last 15 years up to approximately 500m tons  Since the start of national revolts and demonstrations in MENA countries in 2011 the problems of especially young Arabs have attracted the attention worldwide.

Environmental problems that accompany a fast growing population and increasing urbanisation are, among others, increasing consumption of energy and raw materials, increasing land use in order to satisfy the increasing food demand, infrastructure development, disposal of increasing amounts of waste and development of sewage systems. Solving these generation spanning problems is a challenging task for the national governments.

Naturally, such high growth rates also affect the cement industry. In the MENA countries it consists of various companies, part of them listed on the stock exchange. A number of cement companies has, partly for cost aspects, responded to the negative consequences of the rapid population growth. The following paragraphs describe the cement industry’s approaches to push a sustainable development in certain sectors. They are partly driven by own responsibility and partly by regulations of the national governments. In this context it should be mentioned that the growth of the cement industry is already partly limited by factors that are directly connected with sustainability and raw material supply.

Although the factors differ from country to country and cannot be generalised, there are a few major concerns, for example:

  • Fuel shortage
  • Dependence on oil
  • Lack of investment in innovations

Let’s have a closer look on the limiting factors and innovation potential based on practical examples.

Saudi Arabia

In many industrialised countries the continuous and tailored supply of the industry with fossil fuels is only a question of price.  But the fact that of all countries, it was cement plants in the own country that repeatedly reported shortages of fossil fuel supply (heavy fuel oil), was certainly an important reason for the government to get closely involved in this matter.

Cement producers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia obtain state-subsidised natural gas at a price of US$ 0.75/mmbtu from the state-owned oil company “Saudi Aramco”. Formerly, the cement production costs resulting thereof were on average US$ 28.8/ton of cement (costs in neighbouring countries: Kuwait US$ 59.2/ton, UAE US$ 47.8/ton, Oman US$ 37.0/ton) which made it redundant to deal with the topic of energy. In India, a country with one of the highest energy costs in the world, the production of one ton of cement costs US$ 70.0/ton in 2010.

Due to such low energy prices and a steadily growing demand the production capacities grew constantly. Currently, the industry accounts for approximately 40% of the overall energy demand of the country. Analysts estimate that this demand will even double within the next 15 years. However, it is planned to reduce this disproportionate energy demand of the industry.

Under the patronage of HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the state-owned oil company “Saudi Aramco” is developing a so-called “Mandatory Energy Efficiancy Program” (MEEP) for the entire Saudi-Arabian industry. The plan of MEEP is to “establish mandatory policies and regulations with the objective of reducing existing and future energy consumption levels in the industrial sector”.

For the national cement industry this approach implies investments in energy-saving measures. Key points for an energy-efficient industry are identified as

  • Use of alternative raw materials
  • Use of alternative fuels
  • Training and education in energy efficiency

As the use of alternative fuels and raw materials is not yet common in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, guidelines and a regulatory framework have to be defined which set standards for the use of alternative or waste-derived fuels like municipal solid wastes, dried sewage sludge, drilling wastes and others. It has to include:

  • Types of wastes and alternative fuels that may be used by the cement industry
  • Standards for the production of waste-derived fuels
  • Emission standards and control mechanisms while using alternative fuels
  • Standards for permitting procedures

Appropriate standards also need to be established for alternative raw materials that are to be used for clinker and cement production. In order to achieve an energy-efficient production special education, further training and workshops for the involved staff have to be carried out.

Egypt

The current political developments in Egypt influence the local cement industry significantly. The government expects additional sources of revenue on the one hand from selling licences for the construction of new cement plants and on the other hand from a reduction of subsidies for fossil fuels. Since these news are not a surprise for the local cement plants, they started to invest in the implementation of alternative – mostly biomass-derived fuels. One of them is CemexAssiut that not only started using different kinds of biomass, but also, most notably and exemplary, established plantations for the production of biomass (here: “Casuarina”) that are irrigated with pretreated sewage water from the city Assiut.

Egypt is the 14th biggest rice producer in the world and the 8th biggest cotton producer in the world. Egypt produced about 5.67 million tons of rice and 635,000 tons of cotton in 2011. The area of cotton crop cultivation accounts for about 5% of the cultivated area in Egypt. The total amount of crop residues is about 16 million tons of dry matter per year. Cotton residues represent about 9% of the total amount of residues. Such high production rates should be welcomed by the cement industry since these materials comprise cotton stalks, rice husks and rice straw which serve ideally as alternative fuels.

The use of waste-derived alternative fuels is, however, more complicated. Although for example Cairo produces some 15,000 tons of waste each day, it is not easy for the cement plants to obtain this waste since they are in direct competition with the informal sector that controls approx. 60% of the local waste total. So-called Zabbaleen or scavengers – mostly young people who do not have other options – make their living by collecting and selling waste-derived recyclables.

Tunisia

Some years ago, Tunisia already invested in the establishment of an organised waste management system in form of a state-owned agency named “ANGED”. Funded by the national German KfW development bank, numerous waste collection points as well as organised landfills have been built. Additionally, a special collection centre for hazardous waste was erected in Jradou. This centre was operated by MVW Lechtenberg’s Partner Nehlsen AG, the German Waste Management Group, collecting and processing wastes like used oils and solvents. Such wastes are ideal alternative fuels. A fact that is also known to the local cement companies that planned to use them in their plants. Unfortunately, due to public opposition the centre was closed and the projects for the processing of alternative fuels have been suspended since then.

Tunisia is one of the biggest producers and exporters of olive oil in the world. It also exports dates and citrus fruits that are grown mostly in the northern parts of the country. It seems paradox that for example olive kernels – the waste from Tunisian olive production – is exported to European power plants in order to save fossil fuel-derived CO2 emissions there, while Tunisia imports approximately 90% of its energy demand, consisting of fossil fuel.

Morocco

The Moroccan cement industry has already achieved a greater success regarding the use of alternative fuels. Cement plants, mostly owned by the international companies Lafarge, Cimpor, Holcim and Italcimenti, already invested years ago in the environmentally friendly use of alternative fuels and alternative raw materials due to the development of world market prices. Also the only local competitor, CIMAT, has started preparing for the implementation of alternative fuels immediately after completion of its new plant (a 5-stage double string calciner from Polysius) in Ben Ahmed, near Casablanca.

In the year 2003 an agreement on the use and import of alternative fuels (used tyres at the time) was made between the Association Professionelle de Ciment and Moroccan government. Since last year attempts are being made to agree on an industry regulation that sets standards for the use of all appropriate special waste available in Morocco.

United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates, represented by Dr. Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahd, Minister of Environment and Water, recently issued a decision streamlining the activities of cement plants all over the country. The resolution will affect all existing and new cement factories across the country. Its provisions obligate the industry to prepare a report assessing the impact of cement plants on the environment.

According to the decision, this report has to be prepared by a consulting firm having expert knowledge regarding environmental protection in the cement industry. This is certainly the first step to evaluate the current situation which will be followed by an investigation of alternatives towards a sustainable development. Interest in the implementation of alternative fuels already exists among the national cement industry which is proven not least by the numerous planned investment projects.

Conclusions

The cement industry in the MENA region will change significantly within the next years. This change will focus on the improvement of energy efficiency and on the increased use of alternative raw materials and alternative fuels. This will include high investments in technology and in the human resources sector where the creation of new jobs, especially in the field of environmentally friendly and sustainable development, provides a perspective for the growing, young population of the MENA countries.

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Renewable Energy Prospects in Africa

With a sixth of the world’s population, Africa generates a measly four percent of the world’s electricity, three-quarters of which is used by South Africa and northern Africa. According to World Bank statistics, more than 500 million Africans (almost two-thirds of the total population) have no access to “modern energy.” Hydropower accounts for around 45% of electricity generation in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) while biomass (mostly firewood) constitutes about 56 percent of all energy use in sub-Saharan Africa. Large-scale use of forest biomass is accelerating deforestation, and the World Bank estimates that 45,000 square kilometers of forest were lost between 1990 and 2005 across all low-income countries in Africa.

Africa has huge renewable energy potential with some of the world’s largest concentration of alternative energy resources in the form of solar, wind, hydro and biomass energy. Overall, 17 countries in sub-Saharan Africa are in the top-33 countries worldwide with combined reserves of solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal energy far exceeding annual consumption. Most of the sub-Saharan countries receive solar radiation in the range of 6-8 kWh/m2/day, which counts among the highest amounts of solar radiation in the world. Until now, only a small fraction of Africa’s vast renewable energy potential has been tapped.  The renewable energy resources have the potential to cover the energy requirements of the entire continent.

Several African counties, such as South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Kenya, Senegal, Madagascar, Rwanda and Mali have adopted national targets for renewable energy, and feed-in tariffs for renewable energy electricity have been introduced e.g. in South Africa and Kenya.   Countries such as South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania are developing wind farms.  Geothermal investments are increasing in the Rift Valley area of Eastern Africa.  The pipeline of investments in Africa in hydropower, wind farms, solar PV and concentrated solar thermal, geothermal power and biomass energy underlines the huge potential for a future expansion of renewable energy across the continent.

The African Development Bank, through its public and private sector departments, is currently implementing several clean energy projects and programs to address these priorities particularly in the energy and forestry sectors. The Bank's energy portfolio currently stands at about USD 2 billion. The AfDB provides two lending windows. The first is a public window, with mostly concessional funds available to governments. The second is a private window, which offers debt and equity on commercial terms. 

Hydroelectric power generation represent an attractive investment in Africa because of tremendous hydropower generation potential, 60% of which is locked within Guinea, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The AfDB has committed its support to developing the Gibe III hydroelectric dam, in Ethiopia. Wind farms are another lucrative investment arena for AfDB, as shown by AfDB’s commitment for 300MW Lake Turkana Wind Farm in Kenya.  Lake Turkana Wind Power (LWTP) consortium is constructing a wind farm consisting of 353 wind turbines, each with a capacity of 850 kW, in Northwest Kenya near Lake Turkana. The wind power project is expected to reach full production of 300 MW by the end of 2012.  LTWP can provide reliable and continuous clean power to satisfy up to about 30% of Kenya’s current total installed power. 

The Ain Beni Mathar Integrated Solar Thermal Combined Cycle Power Station is one of the most promising solar power projects in Africa.  The plant combines solar power and thermal power, and is expected to reach production capacity of 250MW by 2012. African Development Bank, in partnership with the Global Environment Facility and Morocco's National Electric Authority, is financing approximately two-thirds of the cost of the plant, or about 200 million Euros.

With growing concerns about climate change, AfDB has compiled a strong project pipeline comprised of small- to large-scale wind-power projects, mini, small and large hydro-power projects, cogeneration power projects, geothermal power projects and biodiesel projects. The major priorities for the Bank include broadening the supply of low-cost environmentally clean energy and developing renewable forms of energy to diversify power generation sources in Africa. The AfDB’s interventions to support climate change mitigation in Africa are driven by sound policies and strategies and through its financing initiatives the Bank endeavors to become a major force in clean energy development in Africa.

 

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Habitat Loss in MENA

gazelle-menaHabitat loss of native species in MENA region is increasing at a sensational rate as a consequence of natural and human causes. MENA has diverse ecosystems, including aquatic and terrestrial, with different climate patterns. The region have three globally recognized hotspots; the Irano-Anatolian region, the Mediterranean forest region and the Horn of Africa region. According to 2015 IUCN Red List, approximately 2476 species in MENA are under threat comprising of mammals, fishes, birds, molluscus, amphibians, reptiles, and other species.  28% of threatened species comprises of fishes, 18% plants, 12% birds, 9% mammals and rest others. IUCN data show highest threatened species in Turkey (379), Yemen (292), and Morocco (193). The Socotra archipelago in Yemen is known for its biodiversity with 850 plant species, 30% of which are endemic. Yemen has higher percent of threatened plants species than other species, unlike other region.

Threatened Species of MENA

Considering individual country data, MENA may not account much to global threatened species. However, this region holds planet’s most of the dry and desert area with many endemic species.  Arabian Gazelle, Arabian Tahr, Arabian Oryx, Bunn’s Short Tailed Bandicoot Rat, Buxton’s Jird, Dahl’s Jird, Durcas Gazelle, Euphrate Jerboa, Four toed Jebora, Golden Hamster, Nubian Ibex, Persian Fallow Deer, Slender Horn Gazelle are few of the unique threatened species present in the area. Large and medium sized mammals are generally protected by conservation measures and protected areas by most of the countries. Small sized mammals like rodents are majorly fed to larger species destroyed as pest, or by destruction of marshy and swamps. Aden Gulf Torpedo, Ala Balik, Burdur Spring Minnow, Cave fish, Damascus Garra, Pale Dotty Back, Yag Baligi, Scrapper, Spotted Bleak, Tuz Golden Barb, Yarkon Bream are among few beautiful endemic fish species threatened by declining hydrological regime, water abstraction, agricultural pesticides, by catching, dam construction, illegal fishing, introduction of alien species.

Tourism, poaching, hunting, oil pollution, looping, deforestation, dam construction, human pressures are major threats to bird species. Arabian Woodpecker, Island Cisticole, Jouanin’s Petrel, Socotra Bunting, Yemen Accentor, Yemen Thrush, Yemen Warbler are endemic and non migratory. Diversity in reptiles (snakes, tortoise, lizards) and amphibians (salamander, newt, frogs) are also endemic and face human pressure. MENA experiences reflective ecological changes due to water scarcity, climate fluctuation and human activities. Native non-migrant as well as the migratory species faces equal consequences. Native species take longer time to adapt new and sudden environment alterations, thereby affecting their food source, breeding habits and even modifications in gene expressions. Nomadic, migrant and vagrant species lose their connectivity and risk their life, resulting to global drop of species.

Key issues

Species losing their breeding capability are among major consequence due to human activities. Preservation in captivity has shown low breeding capability in some species like Gazzelle. Pet keeping of rare species has been locally considered to be a part of royal luxury leading to illegal trading and demanding. Such practices hamper their nutrition, health, reproductivity and even lifespan. Washing of pesticides into water resources, oil spills and industrial effluents (hot brine, residual chlorine, anti foaming, anti scaling agents) to marine environment, exhaust release from industries and vehicles, exposure of sounds, flaunts of artificial lights are major forms to pollution. Intensive agricultural system, salination of groundwater, the reduction of fresh water resources, the decline of soil biota, weak fisheries management, land reclamation, harsh quarrying in mountain habitats, over grazing, overhunting, are the major threatening activity in mass.

Increasing tourists, entertainment facilities and infrastructural development have serious consequences for natural habitats, especially in coastal regions of Arabian Peninsula. 40 per cent of Saudi Arabia’s coastal reclamation has resulted in destruction of 50 per cent of its mangroves. GCC countries  invest heavily in construction activities to build up artificial islands with limited sustainable supervision which buries the corals that support fish stocks and water quality. Coral bleaching have destroyed 20,000 km square of coal bed in UAE coastline, representing 7.9% world’s coral cover. There is urgent requirement for strategic plans to incorporate biodiversity policies into national development planning processes in all sectors.

African Development Bank and Renewable Energy

Africa has huge renewable energy potential with some of the world’s largest concentration of alternative energy resources in the form of solar, wind, hydro, and energy. Overall, 17 countries in sub-Saharan Africa are in the top-33 countries worldwide with combined reserves of solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal energy far exceeding annual consumption. Most of the sub-Saharan countries receive solar radiation in the range of 6-8 kWh/m2/day, which counts among the highest amounts of solar radiation in the world. Until now, only a small fraction of Africa’s vast renewable energy potential has been tapped.  The renewable energy resources have the potential to cover the energy requirements of the entire continent.

The African Development Bank has supported its member countries in their energy development initiatives for more than four decades. With growing concerns about climate change, AfDB has compiled a strong project pipeline comprised of small- to large-scale wind-power projects, mini, small and large hydro-power projects, cogeneration power projects, geothermal power projects and biodiesel projects. The major priorities for the Bank include broadening the supply of low-cost environmentally clean energy and developing renewable forms of energy to diversify power generation sources in Africa. The AfDB’s interventions to support climate change mitigation in Africa are driven by sound policies and strategies and through its financing initiatives the Bank endeavors to become a major force in clean energy development in Africa.

Energy projects are an important area of the AfDB’s infrastructure work, keeping in view the lack of access to energy services across Africa and continued high oil prices affecting oil-importing countries. AfDB’s Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), and other programmes, are in the process of identifying priority investment projects in renewable energy, which also include small and medium scale hydro and biomass co-generation.  The Bank supports its member countries towards developing renewable energy projects in three ways:

  • By encouraging countries to mainstream clean energy options into national development plans and energy planning.
  • By promoting investment in clean energy and energy efficiency ventures
  • By supporting the sustainable exploitation of the huge energy potential of the continent, while supporting the growth of a low-carbon economy.

FINESSE Africa Program

The FINESSE Africa Program, financed by the Dutch Government, has been the mainstay of AfDB’s support of renewable energy and energy efficiency since 2004. The Private Sector department of AfDB, in collaboration with the Danish Renewable Energy Agency (DANIDA), has developed a robust project pipeline of solar, wind, geothermal and biomass energy projects for upcoming five years. 

The FINESSE program has helped in project preparation/development for Lesotho (rural electrification by means of different sources of renewable energy), Madagascar (rural water supply using solar water pumps), Ghana (energy sector review) and Uganda (solar PV for schools and boarding facilities), as well as on the development of the energy component of the Community Agricultural Infrastructure Improvement Program in Uganda (solar PV, hydropower and grid extension), the Bank’s initiative on bio-ethanol in Mozambique (including co-funding a recent bio fuels workshop in Maputo) and the AfDB Country Strategy Paper revision in Madagascar.

Clean Energy Investment Framework

The AfDB’s Clean Energy Investment Framework aims at promoting sustainable development and contributing to global emissions reduction efforts by using a three-pronged approach: maximize clean energy options, emphasize energy efficiency and enable African countries to participate effectively in CDM sector. The AfDB’s interventions to support climate change mitigation in Africa are driven by sound policies and strategies and through its financing initiatives the Bank endeavors to become a major force in clean energy development in Africa.

In order to finance energy access and clean energy development operations, the Bank Group will draw on resources from its AfDB non-concessional window to finance public-sponsored projects and programs in countries across Africa. According to the Framework, AfDB will work with a range of stakeholders (national governments, regional organizations, sub-sovereign entities, energy and power utilities, independent power producers and distributors, sector regulators, and civil society organizations) on key issues in clean energy access and climate adaptation in all regional member countries. 

Climate Investment Funds

Part of the AfDB’s commitment to supporting Africa’s move toward climate resilience and low carbon development is expanding access to international climate change financing. The African Development Bank is implementing the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), a pair of funds designed to help developing countries pilot transformations in clean technology, sustainable management of forests, increased energy access through renewable energy, and climate-resilient development. The AfDB has been involved with the CIF since their inception in 2008. 

The Bank is actively supporting African nations and regions as they develop CIF investment plans and then channeling CIF funds, as well as its own co-financing, to turn those plans into action. One of the Climate Investment Funds, the Clean Technology Fund (CTF) provides developing countries with positive incentives to scale up the demonstration, deployment, and transfer of technologies with a high potential for long-term greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions savings. 

In the Middle East and North Africa region, US$750 million in CTF funding is supporting deployment of 1GW of solar power generation capacity, reducing about 1.7 million tons of CO2 per year from the energy sectors of Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. In Morocco, US$197 million in CTF funding is cofinancing the world’s largest concentrated solar power initiative. Another US$125 million is helping scale up investments in its wind energy program targeting 2GW by 2020.

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Waste Management in Morocco

Solid waste management is one of the major environmental problems threatening the Mediterranean Kingdom of Morocco. More than 5 million tons of solid waste is generated across the country with annual waste generation growth rate touching 3 percent. The proper disposal of municipal solid waste in Morocco is exemplified by major deficiencies such as lack of proper infrastructure and suitable funding in areas outside of major cities. 

According to the World Bank, it was reported that before a recent reform in 2008 “only 70 percent of urban MSW was collected and less than 10 percent of collected waste was being disposed of in an environmentally and socially acceptable manner. There were 300 uncontrolled dumpsites, and about 3,500 waste-pickers, of which 10 percent were children, were living on and around these open dumpsites.”  

The Menace of Trash Burning

It is not uncommon to see trash burning as a means of solid waste disposal in Morocco.  Currently, the municipal waste stream is disposed of in a reckless and unsustainable manner which has major effects on public health and the environment.  The lack of waste management infrastructure leads to burning of trash as a form of inexpensive waste disposal.  Unfortunately, the major health effects of burning trash are either widely unknown or grossly under-estimated to the vast majority of the population in Morocco.

Burning of trash is a particular health concern because of the substantial amount of dioxins it produces.  A dioxin is a highly toxic environmental pollutant that is released when household waste is burned.  Most of the dioxins that are released into the air during the burning process end up on the leaves of green vegetation.   These plants are then eaten by dairy animals such as cows,sheep and goats which results in the dioxins being stored and accumulating in the animal’s fatty tissues.  Once this occurs, dioxins are difficult to avoid and people are exposed to them primarily by eating meat and other dairy products, especially those high in fat. 

Furthermore, this type of open burning also causes particle pollution.  Particle pollution refers to microscopic particles that end up in the lungs and cause enormous amounts of human health problems, such as asthma and bronchitis.  Unfortunately, children and the elderly who are exposed to dioxins are among the highest at risk for contracting these illnesses.   Other harmful carcinogens like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and hexachlorobenzene (HCB) are consequences of outdoor burning.   These pollutants have been known to cause numerous amounts of health problems ranging from skin irritation to liver and kidney damage and even in some more serious cases have been linked to cancer. 

The ash itself that is produced when trash is burned often contains mercury, lead, chromium, and arsenic.  “Garden vegetables can absorb and accumulate these metals, which can make them dangerous to eat. Children playing in the yard or garden can incidentally ingest soil containing these metals. Also, rain can wash the ash into groundwater and surface water, contaminating drinking water and food.” This is not even mentioning the population of garbage-pickers who are putting their health on the line while sorting municipal wastes. 

Silver Lining

The good news about the future of Morocco’s MSW management is that the World Bank has allocated $271.3 million to the Moroccan government to develop a municipal waste management plan.  The plan’s details include restoring around 80 landfill sites, improving trash pickup services, and increasing recycling by 20%, all by the year 2020. While this reform is expected to do wonders for the urban population one can only hope the benefits of this reform trickle down to the 43% of the Moroccan population living in rural areas, like those who are living in my village.

Needless to say, even with Morocco’s movement toward a safer and more environmentally friendly MSW management system there is still an enormous population of people including children and the elderly who this reform will overlook.   Until more is done, including funding initiatives and an increase in education, these people will continue to be exposed to hazardous living conditions because of unsuitable funding, infrastructure and education.  

 

References

The World Factbook Africa: Morocco. (2013, 8/22/2013). The World Factbook.  Retrieved 11/02/2013, from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mo.html

Morocco: Municipal Solid Waste Sector. (2013).   Retrieved 11/01/2013, 2013, from http://goo.gl/k91kry

Wastes – Non-Hazardous Waste – Municipal Solid Waste. (2012, 11/15/2012).   Retrieved 10/31/2013, from http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/municipal/backyard/health.htm

 

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Renewable Energy in Morocco

Morocco, being one of largest energy importer in MENA, is making concerted efforts to reduce its reliance on imported fossil fuels. Renewable energy is an attractive proposition as Morocco has almost complete dependence on imported energy carriers. In 2012, Morocco spent around US$10 billion on all energy imports (crude oil and oil products, coal, natural gas and electricity). Annual electricity consumption in Morocco was 33.5 TWh in 2014, and is steadily increasing at a rate of around 7 percent each year. 

The major sources of alternative energy in Morocco are solar and wind. Wind energy potential is excellent in vast parts in the northern and southern regions, with the annual average wind speed exceeding 9 m/s at 40 meters elevation. As far as solar is concerned, the country experiences 3000 hours per year of annual sunshine equivalent to 5.3 kWh/m²/day. In Morocco, the total installed renewable energy capacity (excluding hydropower) was approximately 787MW at the end of year 2015. The Moroccan Government has set up an ambitious target of meeting 42% of its energy requirements using renewable resources (2GW solar and 2GW wind) by 2020. Morocco is investing more than USD13 billion in developing its renewable energy sector, which will reduce its dependence on imported energy carriers to a great extent. 

Morocco Solar Program

Morocco has launched one of the world’s largest and most ambitious solar energy plan with investment of USD 9billion. The Moroccan Solar Plan is regarded as a milestone on the country’s path towards a secure and sustainable energy supply which is clean, green and affordable. The aim of the plan is to generate 2,000 megawatts (or 2 gigawatts) of solar power by the year 2020 by building mega-scale solar power projects at five location — Laayoune (Sahara), Boujdour (Western Sahara), Tarfaya (south of Agadir), Ain Beni Mathar (center) and Ouarzazate — with modern solar thermal, photovoltaic and concentrated solar power mechanisms. Morocco, the only African country to have a power cable link to Europe, is also a key player in Mediterranean Solar Plan and Desertec Industrial Initiative. 

Construction is underway at the 500MW Solar Power Complex at Ouarzazate, the world’s largest solar power plant. To be built with investment of an estimated Euros 2.3 billion, the project is the first one to be implemented under the Moroccan Solar Plan. The Ouarzazate Solar Complex, also known as Noor CSP with a total capacity of 580 MW will produce an estimated output of 1.2 TWh/year to meet power demand of more than 1 million population when it is completed in 2018. The first phase of Ouarzazate solar project, known as Noor 1 CSP, is a 160-MW concentrated solar power (CSP) plant which will be switched on in Febrary 2016. Around $3.9bn has been invested in the Ouarzazate solar complex, including $1bn from the German investment bank KfW, $596m from the European Investment Bank and $400m from the World Bank.

The Ain Beni Mather Integrated Solar Thermal Combined Cycle Power Station, commissioned in 2011, is one of the most promising solar power projects in Africa.  The plant combines solar power and thermal power, and has the production capacity of 472 MWe. The total cost of the project was US$544 million including US$43.2 million in grant financing from the GEF, two loans from the African Development Bank (AfDB) for a total of US$371.8 million and a loan of US$ 129 million from Spain’s Instituto de Credito Official (ICO).

In 2010, the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN), a public-private venture, was set up specifically to implement these projects.  Its mandate is to implement the overall project and to coordinate and to supervise other activities related to this initiative. Stakeholders of the Agency include the Hassan II Fund For Economic & Social Development, Energetic Investment Company and the Office National de l’Electricité (ONE). The Solar Plan is backed by Germany, with funding being provided by German Environment Ministry (BMU) and KfW Entwicklungsbank while GIZ is engaged in skills and capacity-building for industry.

Morocco Wind Program

Morocco has huge wind energy potential due to it 3,500 km coast line and average wind speeds between 6 and 11 m/s. Regions near the Atlantic coast, such as Essaouira, Tangier and Tetouan (with average annual average wind speeds between 9.5 and 11 m/s at 40 metres) and Tarfaya, Laayoune, Dakhla, and Taza (with annual average wind speed between 7.5 and 9.5 m/s at 40 metres) has excellent wind power potential. According to a study by CDER and GTZ, the total potential for wind power in Morocco is estimated at around 7,936 TWh per year, which would be equivalent to about 2,600 GW. Morocco’s total installed wind power capacity at the end of 2015 was an impressive 787MW.

 

The first wind farm in Morocco was installed in 2000 with a capacity of 50.4 MW in El Koudia El Baida (Tlat Taghramt – Province of Tetouan), situated 17km from the town of Fnidek. The annual production of the project is around 200 GWh, accounting for 1% of the national annual electricity consumption. In 2007, 60MW Amogdoul wind farm, on Cap Sim south of Essaouira, came online. This wind farm  was realized by the national utility ONE and  is producing around 210 GWh/year. Another landmark project is 140 MW at Allak, El Haoud and Beni Mejmel, near Tangier and Tetouan which was commissioned in 2010 with annual production of 526 GWh per annum.

Morocco has a strong pipeline of wind power projects to realize its  objective of 2GW of wind power by 2020. Africa’s largest windfarm, at Tarfaya in Southwestern Morocco, having installed capacity of 300MW become operational in 2014. The Tarfaya windfarm, built at a cost of around $700 million has 131 turbines will meet the power requirements of several hundred thousands people and will reduce 900,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year.

EnergiPro Initiative

Morocco’s national utility ONE is developing almost half of the planned projects while the other half is contributed by private investment through the “EnergiPro” initiative, which encourages industrial players to reduce their production costs by producing their own energy with projects up to 50 MW. As part of this initiative, ONE guarantees access to the national grid, and the purchase of any excess electricity produced at an incentive tariff, with different tariffs for each project.

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Cleantech Investment by AfDB

The African Development Bank, through its public and private sector departments, is currently implementing several clean energy projects and programs to address these priorities particularly in the energy and forestry sectors. The Bank's energy portfolio currently stands at about USD2 billion. The AfDB provides two lending windows. The first is a public window, with mostly concessional funds available to governments. The second is a private window, which offers debt and equity on commercial terms. 

The World Bank Group and the African Development Bank are in the process of applying to the Clean Technology Fund (CTF) Trust Fund Committee for use of $750 million of concessional funds for the MENA CSP Scale-up. For example, over the first half of 2012, AfDB approved USD800 million in loans to spur private investments in Morocco's renewable energy sector. The Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA), financially supported by Denmark, aims to support the implementation of AfDB's strategy to provide grants and equity to small-scale renewable energy and energy efficiency project. 

The World Bank Group and the African Development Bank, in collaboration with other donors, are launching an initiative to scale-up Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) up to 1GW over 6-8 years by means of around ten large projects in Africa. Hydroelectric power generation represent an attractive investment opportunity for AfDB as Africa has tremendous hydropower generation potential, 60% of which is locked within Guinea, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The AfDB has committed its support to developing the Gibe III hydroelectric dam, in Ethiopia. Wind farms are another lucrative investment arena for AfDB, as shown by AfDB’s commitment for 300MW Lake Turkana Wind Farm in Kenya. 

Evolution One Fund

In 2009, the African Development Bank has approved a Rand100 million investment in Evolution One Fund, the first specialized private equity fund focused on the acceleration and deployment of clean energy and sustainable technologies across southern Africa. The 10-year private equity fund, managed by Cape Town-based Inspired Evolution Investment Management, will seek to invest predominantly in growth-phase businesses, particularly in eight high-growth sectors, namely clean energy/energy efficiency (up to 50% of its investments), efficient and clean manufacturing processes and technologies, air quality and emissions control. South Africa will account for 60-75% of the fund's overall investments, while up to 25-40% will be earmarked for other Southern African Development Community countries. 

Ain Beni Mathar Solar Project

The Ain Beni Mathar Integrated Solar Thermal Combined Cycle Power Station is the Bank's first experience in solar power. It is working in partnership with the Global Environment Facility and Morocco's National Electric Authority. The African Development Bank is financing approximately two-thirds of the cost of the plant, or about 187.85 million Euros. The plant combines solar power and thermal power, and is expected to reach production capacity of 250MW soon. 

Lake Turkana Wind Project

Lake Turkana Wind Power (LWTP) consortium is constructing a wind farm consisting of 353 wind turbines, each with a capacity of 850 kW, in Northwest Kenya near Lake Turkana. The wind power project has full production of 300 MW.  LTWP can provide reliable and continuous clean power to satisfy up to about 30% of Kenya’s current total installed power. The AfDB Group is facilitating the entire project cost of US$405 million, out of which, the institution intends to provide US$135 million. The AfDB has also agreed to invest US$19 million in a wind power project in the Republic of Cape Verde, off the western coast of Africa. This total cost of the project, consisting of four wind farms with more than 120 wind turbines, is US$84 million.

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Deleterious Impact of Tire-Burning Kilns

Decorative arts such as woodworking, weaving as well as ceramics and other pottery have a long and honored tradition.  In fact, some of the earliest examples of pottery originate from the Middle East from the time of 6500 BC. In order to meet the ceramic industry’s high energy demand, much of the developing world, MENA in particular, is resorting to cheaper alternatives such as fueling kilns by burning tires and other harmful materials. Though modern technology has led to clean and efficient kiln usage in the developed world, these options come with a high price tag when referring to industrial demands for ceramics and other fired products.

Burning of tires and other rubber materials as a primary source of energy for kilns is particularly concerning.  In other areas of the world, like India, where the concerns lie in the harmful effects of coal-fired kilns, areas like Morocco and other North African countries are dealing with harmful impacts of tire burning. While burning tires does provide an efficient source of energy, the harmful effects of such burning far exceed the benefits. 

Scrap tires are used as a supplement to traditional fuels such as coal or wood fuel because of their high heating value. Typically, for each pound of scrap tire rubber burned it equates to 15,000 BTUs of energy and a single tire can burn for up to 50 minutes.  This equates to 25 percent more energy being produced than coal. Regardless of the efficiency, the fumes that are being released from tire burning have been shown to be extremely toxic to human health and harmful to the environment. 

Dangers to Public Health

Open tire fire emissions include "criteria"pollutants, such as particulates, carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur oxides (SOx), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They also include "non-criteria" hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), such as polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs),dioxins, furans, hydrogen chloride, benzene, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); and metals such as cadmium, nickel, zinc, mercury, chromium, and vanadium.

Both criteria and non-criteria pollutants can cause significant short and long term health effects.  Depending on the length and degree of exposure, these health effects could include irritation of the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes, respiratory effects, central nervous system depression, and cancer.  The EPA suggests that any unprotected exposure to these emissions be avoided.  Furthermore, uncontrolled tire burning has been proven to be 16 times more mutagenic, meaning capable of inducing genetic mutation, than traditional residential wood combustion in a fireplace, and 13,000 times more mutagenic than coal-fired utility emissions with good combustion efficiency and add-on controls.

Especially troubling is the exposure that children living within these communities are inadvertently being subjected to. Children, foetuses, nursing babies, elderly, asthmatics, and immune suppressed individuals are all much more vulnerable to the pollutants released burning tires. Even a nursing woman can transfer the pollutions she inhales to a baby through the fat in her breast milk.  During breast-feeding, infants are exposed to higher concentrations of organic pollutants than at any subsequent time in their lives. Burning tires only adds to that toxic burden. Saving money on fuel by burning tires should not take precedence over public health. Unfortunately, in small villages and other underdeveloped areas where tire burning kilns sustain much of the local economy, exposure to these toxins is inevitable with the current practices being employed.  

Huge Environmental Costs

In addition to the negative effects tire burning has on the health of humans, it also has environmental costs that have not yet been discussed. The three main effects tire burning has on the environment is air, water, and soil pollution.   The airborne pollution caused from the tire burning kilns is significant.  The black fumes contain heavy metals and other harmful pollutants that linger in the air and can lead to acute to chronic health hazards. 

In terms of water and soil pollution, according to the EPA, “for every million tires consumed by fire, about 55,000 gallons of runoff oil can pollute the environment unless contained and collected”.  If uncontained, this runoff can then be carried away by rainwater to local water sources contaminating them.  Additionally, the remaining residue can cause two types of pollution; these are immediate pollution by liquid decomposition products penetrating soil, and gradual pollution from leaching of ash and unburned residues following rainfall or other water entry.

While the burning of tires is not considered recycling, there is an argument regarding whether it is worse to landfill tires or reuse them to recover energy.  While even in the United States the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes that the use of tire-derived fuels is a viable alternative to the use of fossil fuels, there are other factors that need to be considered.  For instance, in more developed areas of the world, regulations are in place such as the Clean Air Act which minimizes the amount of emissions being released by businesses as well as the fact that technology exists that can help clean and filter the emissions before they are released into the air. On the other hand, in less developed areas of the world, environmental regulations and technology of this magnitude may not exist thus,exposing those citizens to more of the environmental and health related effects of uncontrolled tire burning.  While many factors contribute to either argument, all in all this particularly issue is under examined and results in the impairment of health and the safety of entire communities in the developing world. 

References

Air Emissions from Scrap Tire Combustion. (1997) (pp. 1-117). Washington, DC.: United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Frequent Questions. (2013). 2014, from http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/materials/tires/faq.htm#ques14

Gratkowski, M. T. (2012). Burning Characteristics of Automotive Tires. Fire Technology, 50(2), 379-391. http://link.springer.com.www.libproxy.wvu.edu/article/10.1007/s10694-012-0274-9/fulltext.html#Sec11

Mayer, J. (2005). Tire burn could cause children severe harm. 2014, from http://www.lesspollution.org/my_turn.html

Potential Environmental Impact of Uncontrolled Tyre Fires. (from 2008, ongoing.). 2014, from http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/waste/end-of-life-tyre-management-jul04/html/page6.html

Tire Fires. (2013). 2014, from http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/tires/fires.htm

Tire-Derived Fuel. (2012). 2014, from http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/tires/tdf.htm

 

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Masdar’s Partnership with GDF Suez for Morocco CSP Project

Masdar and GDF Suez are working in a consortium as one of the pre-qualified bidders for the 200MW Noor II and 100MW Noor III CSP projects in Morocco. The winning bidders are expected to be announced in September this year and in a recent interview with CSP Today, Yago Mancebo, Investment Manager at Masdar, spoke about Masdar’s first experience in the bidding process for a CSP project and their reasons for partnering with GDF Suez.

Masdar has a strong portfolio of CSP projects behind them (Gemasolar and Shams 1), whilst their partner GDF Suez are one of the biggest independent power producers in the world with a vast experience of bidding for utility scale power projects. In the interview, Mancebo highlights this complementing balance of experience as the main reason for choosing to partner with GDF Suez in Morocco.

Mancebo outlined their challenges and successes in finding the right partners for CSP projects. Mancebo said that the main challenge with forming a good partnership in CSP is simply that there are relatively few players in the industry. He went on to say that GDF starting to get into the CSP industry is a positive thing ‘because we now have at least one more company interested in this technology’.

Mancebo also spoke about the reasons behind why Masdar did not partner with some of the developers they have worked with in the past, such as SENER and ACWA Power, stating that the main reason is that ACWA Power has their own strategy for Morocco and other markets. Mancebo said that Masdar would ‘prefer to be the leading partner in every sense’ and ‘want to be an active investor’ in the CSP projects they are involved with in the future. He went on to say that this is reason the partnership with GDF Suez works well, as ‘the consortium’s decision-making process is like a joint venture – 50-50’.

To read the full interview, including an insight into Masdar’s future plans for CSP in the MENA region, download it here: http://goo.gl/v8tCG4

For more information about this interview or to learn more about the MENASOL event, please contact Sarah Kingham at sarah@csptoday.com

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Alternative Energy Prospects in Morocco

Morocco, being the largest energy importer in North Africa, is making concerted efforts to reduce its reliance on imported fossil fuels. The country currently imports 95% of its energy needs which creates strong dependence on foreign energy imports. Renewable energy is an attractive proposition as Morocco has almost complete dependence on imported energy carriers. Morocco is already spending over US$3 billion a year on fuel and electricity imports and is experiencing power demand growth of 6.5 per cent a year. Morocco is investing heavily in the power sector by building new power plants such as expansion of coal power plant in JorfLasfer and establishment new coal power plant near Safi.

According to the Moroccan Ministry of Energy and Mining, the total installed capacity of renewable energy (excluding hydropower) was approximately 300MW in 2011. The Moroccan Government has already achieved its target of supplying around 8% of total primary energy from renewables by 2012 which includes energy generation, conversion and distribution. Morocco is planning USD13 billion expansion of wind, solar and hydroelectric power generation capacity which would catapult the share of renewables in the energy mix to 42% by the year 2020, with solar, wind and hydro each contributing 14%. 

Wind Energy

The technical potential of wind energy in Morocco is estimated to be 25 GW. This is the equivalent to 5 times the current installed power capacity in Morocco, and reflects the huge potential in this clean energy source. Morocco has already installed almost 300 MW wind turbines and other projects are being implemented. At the same time, Morocco launched a wind energy plan consisting in the installation of 2000 MW by 2020. Many experts state that Morocco will install total capacities beyond this plan. In fact, wind energy is already cost competitive with respect to conventional energy resources, and due to the technological progress, the cost is even being reduced significantly. Most of the already implemented projects and those being implemented or planned, are developed by public organisations or within the framework of agreements with public organisations.

Solar Energy

The German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ) estimated the potential of solar energy in Morocco to be equivalent to 1500 times the national consumption of electricity. Morocco has invested in solar home systems (SHS) to electrify households in the rural areas. Morocco has launched one of the world’s largest and most ambitious solar energy plan with investment of USD 9billion. The Ain Beni Mather Integrated Solar Thermal Combined Cycle Power Station is one of the most promising solar power projects in Africa.  The plant combines solar power and thermal power, and is expected to reach production capacity of 250MW by the end of 2012. y building mega-scale solar power projects at five location — Laayoune (Sahara), Boujdour (Western Sahara), Tarfaya (south of Agadir), Ain Beni Mathar (center) and Ouarzazate — with modern solar thermal, photovoltaic and concentrated solar power mechanisms.

Hydropower

Morocco is planning to add a total of 2 GW new hydropower capacities, consisting mainly in small and medium stations. This plan should be achieved by 2020, and combined with 2 GW solar energy and 2 GW wind energy capacities would, add a total 6GW renewable energy capacities, which will supply 42% of the Moroccan electricity in 2020. 

Biomass Energy

Unfortunately there is no national strategy to exploit biomass energy in Morocco. However, there are many potential projects which could promote biomass energy sector in the country, such as waste-to-energy, biofuels and biogas from abundant feedstock like solid wastes, crop wastes, industrial wastes etc. The agronomic research has demonstrated the adaptability of new energetic plants to the arid zones. These plants such as Jatropha urcas, could be cultivated in the arid zone in Morocco, and be exploited for biofuels production and as a green barrier against desertification. Like solar and wind, the biomass energy sector also requires support and investment from the government and private sector.

Conclusions

Morocco is endowed with tremendous alternative energy resources which can be exploited to meet national energy requirements as well as export of surplus power to neighbouring countries. Due to its geographical position, Morocco could be a hub for renewable energy exchange between the European Union and North Africa. Renewable energy sector can create good employment opportunities and can also strengthen country’s economy. However, the government should liberalize renewable energy market, encourage public-private partnership and create mass environmental awareness to increase the share of renewable in the national energy mix.