UN study on Morocco's green energy plans fails at geography
A case study on Morocco's policy reforms regarding renewable energy by a UN agency completely ignores the fact that a significant share of Morocco's planned production will come from occupied Western Sahara, as it fails to even distinguish between the two territories.
Above picture: one of the many maps - courtesy of Morocco's national electricity agency - depicting Western Sahara as part of Morocco, that were included in UNESCWA's report on Morocco's renewable sector.
The report does not mention Western Sahara anywhere: not in the country brief, not in the used maps which all depict Morocco as incorporating Western Sahara, nor in the actual content. While Morocco's targets in terms of wind and solar energy are described, there is no reference at all to Morocco's solar and wind projects in the Non-Self-Governing Territory - inspite of them being substantial.
The report boasts the Moroccan Solar Plan (Noor) and the Moroccan Integrated Wind Program, but does not mention that both programs include the construction of energy-generating infrastructure in Western Sahara. The exact locations of the wind turbines or solar equipment is mentioned, but it is not explained that these towns or areas are located outside of Morocco. The Moroccan Solar Plan foresees in the construction of solar plants in Sabkhat Tah (near Western Sahara’s capital of El Aaiun) and in Boujdour. If completed, 30% of Morocco’s generated solar potential through Noor will come from Western Sahara. No less than 22.75% of the energy generated through the Moroccan Integrated Wind Program will come from wind turbines in Western Sahara. This is not mentioned anywhere in the report.
It should be noted that the UNESCWA report primarily documents Morocco’s renewable plans toward the 2020 horizon. When taking into account Morocco’s more recent plans for a 200MW wind farm in Aftissat (already being constructed) and for a 400MW farms near Dakhla, the share of production in Western Sahara out of Morocco’s total wind energy production has risen above 40%.
"It is perhaps not surprising that this report would obfuscate Morocco's green energy plans in occupied Western Sahara, as the report's author is the former Director of Renewable Energy at Morocco's state-owned electricity agency ONEE, but it is baffling that the report managed to sail through a presumed UN-review and has been published under UN-header", says Sara Eyckmans of Western Sahara Resource Watch. "We call upon UNESCWA to rescind this report, as a UN ageny should not allow itself to be used to whitewash Morocco's tactics of moroccanising Western Sahara."
In its letter to UNESCWA, WSRW raised its concerns that Morocco's development of Western Sahara's energy potential will negativily impact on the UN's attempts to broker a just and lasting peace. As the Moroccan monarchy controls the renewable sector through a string of holdings, and as all wind farms in Western Sahara are in the portfolio of a company owned by the king - why would the king have any interest in peace talks when he personally benefits from Morocco's military presence in the territory? Morocco's growing dependency on Western Sahara for its energy supply also does not bode well for a negotiated peace.
More information about Morocco's green energy plans in occupied Western Sahara can be found in WSRW's report "Powering the Plunder", published in November 2016.
Since you're here.... WSRW’s work is being read and used more than ever. But our financial situation is tough. Our work takes time, dedication and diligence. But we do it because we believe it matters – and we hope you do to. If everyone who reads our website or likes us on Facebook, would contribute to our work – 3€, 5€, 27€ … what you can spare – the future of WSRW would be much more secure. You can donate to WSRW in less than a minute here.
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.
It's not easy keeping up with all the different legal proceedings relating to Western Sahara. For the sake of clarity, here's an overview of the five different cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Leading activists from Western Sahara are condemned to sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment in connection to a mass protest in 2010 denouncing the Saharawi people’s social and economic marginalization in their occupied land; the Gdeim Izik protest camp.
At COP22, beware of what you read about Morocco’s renewable energy efforts. An increasing part of the projects take place in the occupied territory of Western Sahara and is used for mineral plunder, new WSRW report documents.