Wind turbines in farmland

Renewable Energy and Middle East Economic Renewal

The global oil-price bust has devastated economies across the Middle East and North Africa, and prices are unlikely to rebound anytime soon. Morocco’s drive to become a regional renewable-energy powerhouse offers a real option for economic development in other Arab countries.

FEZ – The global oil-price bust has devastated economies across the Middle East and North Africa. Having seen severe price declines in the past, many leaders in the region may be tempted to wait for prices to rise again. But this collapse is different, and governments need new energy and development strategies. Morocco’s drive to become a regional renewable-energy powerhouse offers a real option for economic development in other Arab countries.

Morocco has been investing in large-scale renewable-energy projects for some time; but only now are these investments coming online. Perhaps the most impressive is the gigantic Noor-1 solar-energy compound, located in the Moroccan desert near Ouarzazate. Opened on February 4, Noor-1 uses highly advanced technology to store energy for use at night and on cloudy days.

Considered the largest solar power plant in the world, Noor-1 is expected to produce enough energy for more than a million people, with extra power eventually to be exported to Europe and Africa, according to the World Bank. Given that Morocco imports around 97% of its energy supply, and possesses no oil or natural gas deposits of its own, the government has viewed developing renewable energy as the only way to ensure the country’s continuing economic development. This is an insight others in the region should heed.

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