TBY talks to Saïd Mouline, CEO of Moroccan Agency for Energy Efficiency (AMEE), on solar energy, energy-efficiency in rural areas, and plans for the coming year.

What are your main operations in Morocco?

The energy transitions which rely on renewable energies and on energy efficiency demand long-term policies. The chance in Morocco is the Royal will and vision that is being implemented. A phenomenon that provides glimmers of hope is the cost of produced energies from renewable resources which continues its already dazzling decrease. Nowadays, the least expensive way of producing electricity is through photovoltaic power generation. Wind energy comes in second place. Some industrialists implemented energy efficiency measures while producing with renewable energies and that, successfully resulted in a drastic drop of their energy bill whilst reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. This applies for the industrialists, but is also becoming more and more attractive to households, cities, and rural communities. The evolution in energy storage, whose cost also decrease, shows that new environmental and economic solutions will be implemented to supply energy without any wasting while being consumed, especially on our continent where still 600 million inhabitants have no access to electricity. The case of the Kingdom of Morocco is interesting from this perspective: being the source of only 0,15% of the world emissions, the energy transition represents a political will to the highest level of the State, and did not emerge during the COP 22, but since 2009. Priority was given to renewable energies and to energy efficiency, through two dedicated agencies: the Moroccan Agency for Energy Efficiency (AMEE) and the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (MASEN), in charge developing the largest projects around renewables. Both must go hand in hand. It is essential that, at the same time as renewable energy, a voluntarist policy in energy efficiency must be developed in all sectors: electricity production, industry, urban planning, construction, transport, agriculture… Energy efficiency establishes itself as a key lever, by being the most effective strategic approach so that countries meet their commitments to reduce greenhouse gases at a fast speed and at a lower cost : let us recall that the least expensive energy is the one which is not consumed. This year, the industrial, agricultural and public construction sectors were the main targets of the Moroccan Agency for Energy Efficiency. We could go faster if the green financing was available, as even if renewable energies are easily financed today, energy efficiency requires however more financial support.

If people install solar panels on roofs, can they sell electricity back to the grid?

No, one can only produce electricity for personal use. Today, there are public projects for utilities, and MASEN is launching tenders and buying all the electricity produced from promoters. However, there is also a law allowing individuals to produce their own renewable energy and even sell it to another industry, though only on high tension. Low and mid tension is being debated. We have many completely private projects selling to other private companies in the steel, mining, and railway companies that are purchasing electricity from private wind projects. We are pushing for legislation on small projects and for public buildings at the highest level of the state. All public buildings such as AMEE should be an example by using a solar roof where possible and reducing their energy bills.

What are the biggest challenges to reach 15% energy efficiency by 2030?

In some cases, it will be easy and in others it will be difficult. We are pushing to have national financial support for energy efficiency because we can help all farmers be more efficient. In industry, we also need more financing, though it is great that local banks have loans dedicated to energy efficiency. We also need water treatment station for residential uses and biogas as energy, with the water being used for irrigation. There is a nexus between water, electricity, and energy. That is there is a program for all 12 regions in the country that we are discussing with mayors to have this energy efficiency reflected. They receive projects from hotels, industry, hospitals, and so on. We can help check if the projects have an energy-efficient approach.

Can you tell us more about your energy-efficiency workshops in rural areas and how this will be implemented nationally?

Heightening awareness and capacity building are keys. We are rising awareness of farmers in all the regions. We train young people how to size, install and maintain solar pumps. We have a training center in Marrakesh called Green Platform which help capacity building in different sectors linked to energy efficiency for Morocco and for all Africa. AMEE has 20 agreements with different agencies in the continent. The approach is to have young people who are locally trained doing the right job for installation and maintenance of thousands of small projects. This is how we can create jobs by providing the energy service to millions of people.

What are you focusing on in 2020?

We want to help all five sectors to decrease their energy bill. For some we have to push, as it is clear it is economically viable. Agriculture for example is crucial. Also, in the building sector we are pushing for regulation to be applied in all regions. We will also monitor energy efficiency, and by law, we will now follow the consumption of all big consumers in Industry. We have a program to monitor and label all imports and to establish minimum energy performance standards. When one is importing fridges or air conditioning, they will need to have energy efficiency labels.