Moroccan King’s windfarm project on occupied land gets thumbs down

Norwegian company DNV, certified by the UN Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) to evaluate projects seeking CDM-funding, has issued a negative opinion on the Moroccan King’s envisioned windfarm project in occupied Western Sahara – precisely for taking place in a politically controversial area.
Published: 23.07 - 2012 16:00Printer version    
The Norwegian company Det Norske Veritas (DNV) has stated in Norwegian newspaper Bistandsaktuelt 19 July that they’ve given the Foum El Oued Windfarm project the thumbs down. DNV had been assigned by CDM to check whether the project was eligible for receiving carbon credits - something which the project’s operators, Nareva Holding, had applied for.

Through CDM, companies may receive emission credits for projects involving renewable energy in developing countries. These credits can subsequently be sold. To be approved, the project must first be evaluated by a company accredited by CDM.

Stein B. Jensen at DNV Climate Change Services recounts that they originally believed that the wind park was
to be built in southern Morocco, but after a while began to suspect that this was not the case.

“When we visited the project, it became clear that our suspicions were justified. It was therefore fairly simple on our part. In January we disclosed that we would be negative to the project. When a customer is informed of this, they can choose whether to continue with the negative recommendation or cancel the project. In this case they chose to cancel, as most do,” Jensen related, Jensen related to Bistandsaktuelt, a paper covering foreign aid issued, owned by the Norwegian government’s agency for development aid.

The controversial project was officially annulled in April 2012, according to Bistandsaktuelt. Yet the Foum El Oued windpark is still listed in CDM’s project database. Jensen explained that this is due to the slowness in updating the UN’s web pages.

Western Sahara Resource Watch is still awaiting an answer from the CDM Board regarding its queries on the project.

Several other Moroccan-led projects in occupied Western Sahara are still up for assessment by CDM, including a solar energy project to further the illegal fisheries industry.

Erik Hagen of The Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara is uncertain whether the consultancy firms that have to approve the projects have sufficient understanding of what is happening in Western Sahara and believes the question must be clarified principally by CDM.

“Siemens turns out not to be a unique case. We appreciate to learn about DNV’s attitude and this will hopefully set the standard for future CDM applications in the occupied territories. But we can not take it for granted that all certification companies will reach the same conclusion. CDM must in principle clarify that a state can not have CDM projects in areas that lie outside their internationally accepted borders,” Hagen stated to Bistandsaktuelt.

Read a complete English translation of the Bistandsaktuelt article here.

Though no longer running for CDM-endorsement, the controversial Foum el Oued project can still proceed. The project is to be operated and managed by Nareva Holding, a Moroccan industrial and financial group controlled by the King of Morocco. German multinational Siemens AG has been contracted to supply the wind turbines and technical know-how to the project.


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Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
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