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Renewable energies: a mine to be exploited

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On Monday, 7 November 2016, on the first day of the 22nd United Nations conference, COP22, in Marrakech, key actors from the renewable energies sector met in the Africa Pavilion to discuss issues including progress in the sector.

"We have seen considerable developments in recent years in terms of renewable energy, but the various regions are advancing at their pace. Today, 21% of electricity in Africa is produced by renewable energy, and the proportion is rising", announced Amine Homman Ludiye, the North Africa regional Director for the company ENGIE.

He cited Morocco as an example of a country thathas experienced rapid growth in recent years due to its accumulated expertise. He also stated that the country had begun its energy transformation many years ago, becoming a model to be duplicated in order to share knowledge with other African countries.

Early in October 2016, the African Development Bank (AfDB) published a report on the sector in North Africa, which recommended that Morocco adopts microgeneration power plants.  According to the publication The Renewable Energy Sector and Youth Employment in the Maghreb, "the supply of rural or far-off zones by micro-plants (wind, photo-voltaic, hydro) represents another interesting option".

Morocco produces approximately 6,136 MW of energy per year, which is broken down as follows: 4,166 MW by traditional power stations (68.4%), 1,748 MW by hydraulic energy (28%), and 222 MW by wind power (3.6%).

"We are on the right path. Now it is important to combine our shared expertise and focus more closely on small projects, as well as to change our view of the efficiency of smaller projects that enable us to learn more about the processes to be scaled up for application to larger projects", said Andreas Gunst, a specialist in energy and electricity projects at the global law firm DLA Piper.

Not everyone, however, is yet in agreement regarding this approach since the political will is too often lacking and the funds are insufficient for resolving climate problems that affect the planet.

"We know that it is very difficult for all countries to be on the same level of progress spontaneously in terms of renewable energy", announced Gareth Phillips, a specialist on climate change and green growth at the African Development Bank (AfDB).  He added: "Today, instead of talking about percentages, we should consider the main areas that need to be addressed.  Energy is fundamental to our daily lives, and we must convince policy makers so that we can obtain the funding we need".

"It is not simply a question of money.  We must identify sources, resources and the environment, whether stable or changing", replied Rachel Child, director of qualification at Camco Clean Energy. "The technical opportunities are huge, the funding needs to be found, and there are ways to achieve this. We do not have any guidelines and we turn to development agencies.  However, the fundamental question is: what project do we want to invest in and what are the short and medium-term consequences?"

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