Clean energies: North Africa could become an important partner for the EU

The European Council on International Relations (ECFR) believes that North African countries, including Morocco, can become important partners in Europe’s energy transition, ” if the European Union takes the right measures in the years to come“.

In a recently published Policy Brief, the European Think Tank argues that North Africa has enormous renewable energy potential, particularly solar and wind power, the surplus of which could easily be exported to Europe. ‘Europe. The ECFR notes that clean electricity from North Africa would be an important option in the medium term to help diversify Europe’s energy mix and reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels in the long term.

According to Laura El-Katiri, Researcher and author of the paper, North Africa is a promising region for the future production of green hydrogen, “ an energy source likely to be essential for the EU to meet its climate targets in hard-to-decarbonise sectors“. She points out that these countries are also home to critical raw materials needed for the energy transition, offering the EU the opportunity to further diversify its supply chains for clean energy technologies.

The author emphasizes in particular the fact that North Africa’s young and educated workforce also offers the EU not only a potential workforce for manufacturing technologies closer to home than Asian markets, but also the necessary skills meaningful cooperation in areas such as research and development (R&D)“.

Regarding green energy and its related value chains in line with the political priorities of some North African governments, El-Katiri highlights the case of Morocco, a “net importer of energy”, aiming to acquire an international position. thanks to its “green” leadership. She mentions the Kingdom’s latest negotiations with European manufacturers of electric vehicle batteries to set up a factory, in order to integrate its cobalt production into an existing strategy for the development of its automotive sector. ” Such forms of cooperation could yield positive results for both sides.“, adds the researcher.

Thus, she points out that the most likely partners for the Europeans in the short term will be Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, ” although European policy makers should also recognize the possibility of cooperation with Egypt“.

In addition, the researcher recalls the agreements signed with Morocco, of which theagreement for the development of an ammonia and green hydrogen project, HEVO Ammoniac Maroc, between the Ministry of Energy, Fusion Fuel Green, and Fusion Fuel and Consolidated Contractors Group, signed in July 2020, with a target of production of green ammonia amounting to 3,650 tons in 2022, 60,000 tons in 2025 and 2026, of hydrogen reaching 616 tons in 2022, 3,472 tons in 2023 and 10,411 tons in 2025 and 2026, with a total investment of 865 million euros.

In addition to the partnership agreement on green hydrogen between the Moroccan and German governments signed in June 2020 characterized by the installation of a 100 megawatt renewable energy plant to produce green hydrogen in Morocco. El-Katiri also did not forget to mention that the Moroccan solar energy agency Masen plans to develop a hybrid photovoltaic/wind power plant to supply a green hydrogen plant, with an electrolysis capacity of 100 MW.

The Policy Brief also said that some raw materials are present in North Africa, in particular phosphates in Morocco, noting that the Kingdom was the world’s second largest producer of phosphates in 2020 and holds around 75% of the world’s reserves. Morocco was also the world’s third-largest producer of barites in 2020, a mineral mainly used in drilling fluids, but also in specialty paints, concrete and medicine, accounting for 15% of Europe’s supplies.

On the financing side, El-Katiri continues that countries such as Morocco, Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia have made many of their emissions reductions and renewable energy plans conditional on their determined contributions to the national level to the availability of sufficient funding.

In this sense, it recommends that these countries, including those of the EU, adopt a rights-based approach ensuring jobs and capacity building, trade facilitation, partnerships, market regulation, to make the Green Deal a credible political mechanism capable of concrete action. ” The EU and North African states should therefore set up a forum for two-way communication, information sharing and implementation“, emphasizes the author.

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