Desertec: What Went Wrong?

A plan to power Europe from solar power plants in Sahara desert, popularly known as Desertec, seems to have stalled, but several large North African solar projects are still going ahead despite local concerns. Where did the Desertec project go wrong, and can desert solar power yet play a role in a democratic and sustainable future? If you use social media, you may well have seen a graphic going around, showing a tiny square in the Sahara desert with the caption: ‘This much solar power in the Sahara would provide enough energy for the whole world!’ Can this really be true? It is … Continue reading

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 … Continue reading

Solar Energy in Morocco

Morocco, being the largest energy importer in North Africa, 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. Morocco is already spending over USD 3billion a year on fuel and electricity imports and is experiencing power demand growth of 6.5 per cent a year. The National Energy and Energy Efficiency Plan was launched in 2008 which aims to develop renewable energy to meet 15 percent of the country’s energy demand and to increase the use of energy-saving methods.  According to the Moroccan Ministry … Continue reading

Environmental Impact of Olive Oil Processing Wastes

More commonly known for its popular culinary and medicinal benefits, olive cultivation, olive oil production and oil packaging are a part of the local heritage and rural economy throughout the North African and Mediterranean regions. In 2012, an estimated 2,903,676 tons of olive oil was produced worldwide, the largest olive oil producers being Spain, Italy, and Greece followed by Turkey and Tunisia and to a lesser extent Portugal, Morocco and Algeria. Within the European Union’s olive sector alone, there are roughly 2.5 million producers, who make up roughly one-third of all EU farmers. The olive oil industry offers valuable opportunities to … Continue reading

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 … Continue reading

Climate Change Impacts on Public Health: Perspectives for Arab World

Climate change is not only affecting the economies of Arab world but also having detrimental impacts on the very fabric of society, through threats to public health and livelihoods. Climate change in the Arab world is also exacerbating social inequalities, hitting the rural poor the hardest. This is not a reason for complacency amongst the wealthy urban classes. Basic humanitarianism aside, history suggests that physical hardships can breed wider unrest: a body of evidence suggests that poor harvests caused by a major Icelandic volcanic ash cloud in 1783 triggered no less an event that the French Revolution. Extreme weather events … Continue reading

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 … Continue reading

Habitat Loss in MENA

Habitat 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), … Continue reading

Morocco-Nigeria Gas Pipeline: Smart Move for Economy or an Environmental Disaster

An ambitious project concerning energy industry in Africa between Morocco and Nigeria was set to be constructed to enhance the acceleration of electrification projects across the West African region. The objective of Morocco-Nigeria pipeline project is aimed at creation of a competitive regional market of electricity, and to connect gas resources from Nigeria to West African countries including Morocco. The pipeline project will be approximately 5,660-km long and its construction works will be in phases covering 25 years. After feasibility studies in 2017, the two countries opted for a combined onshore-offshore route to build the pipeline. The two countries are … Continue reading

Countries Driving Solar Surge in MENA

The countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are known for their abundance of fossil fuels, yet they also have another energy resource at their fingertips – solar power. Some countries such as Saudi Arabia, which have great solar resources, are transitioning to utility scale solar energy production.  This allows them to export more of their fossil fuel instead of using it to produce power domestically. However, the decision to switch to solar power isn’t just to preserve oil resources for export. The countries in the MENA region are also experiencing increased demand for electricity due to rising … Continue reading

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 … Continue reading

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 … Continue reading