Morocco’s renewable energy market holds a prominent position in Africa, boasting strategic geographical advantages and abundant renewable resources. Considering how Morocco’s renewable energy market has witnessed significant growth and development, this Blog Post explores the ever-evolving legal landscape for renewable energy in Morocco and the establishment of legislative and regulatory frameworks since 2009, laying the foundation for energy strategy implementation. Recent legislative reforms include Law No. 40-19, focusing on grid capacity, facilitation of solar energy projects, system service fees, electricity purchase mechanisms, and renewable energy operators’ obligations. Additionally, Law No. 82-21 introduces regulations on the self-generation of electricity, encompassing grid access, energy storage, surplus energy sales, and origin certificates for self-generators. These reforms aim to create a favorable environment for developing and integrating renewable energy into Morocco’s energy mix.
Thus, this Blog Post showcases that Morocco is demonstrating its commitment to decarbonization efforts and the transition to a more sustainable energy sector by implementing these new regulations. Morocco’s focus on clean energy sources contributes to environmental goals and positions Morocco’s national economy as competitive and itself as a leading player in Africa’s renewable energy sector.
Morocco has undeniable assets that position it among the leading renewable energy markets in Africa. According to the 2021 Energy Transition Index, it ranks fourth in the African continent, behind Ghana, Namibia, and Kenya. This is because of Morocco’s strategic geographical location at the crossroads of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, and its political stability, abundant renewable energy resources such as solar and wind energy.
The country is actively pursuing ambitious goals for reducing Carbon Dioxide (CO 2 ) emissions and has actively engaged in international climate discussions and initiatives, showcasing a firm dedication from both the Moroccan King and the Government to assume a substantial role. Following its hosting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) in 2016, Morocco has already achieved renewable energy installed capacity exceeding 34% by 2020, with projections aiming for 52% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.
The energy sector is considered a key driver of economic development and social progress under the guidance of an ambitious royal vision. It has implemented the “New National Energy Strategy” (la nouvelle stratégie énergétique nationale), adopted in March 2009. The National Energy Strategy aims to increase the share of renewable energy in Morocco’s energy mix to 52% by 2030. Initiatives — such as the “Moroccan Solar Plan” launched in November 2009 in Ouarzazate, the “Moroccan Integrated Wind Energy Program” in June 2010 in Tangier, and most recently, the “Generation Green 2020-2030” strategy in 2020 — intended to build upon the achievements of the “Green Morocco Plan” initially launched in 2008. Furthermore, all these plans and strategies are part of the “New Development Model” (Nouveau Modèle de Développement) that aims to support the global energy transition towards cleaner and more sustainable energy sources. Therefore, these national plans, strategies, and models highlight Morocco’s efforts to foster a sustainable global energy transition.
2. The Legal Landscape for Renewable Energy in Morocco: An Ever-Evolving Framework
Since 2009, a corpus of legislative and regulatory texts has been established to serve as the foundation for implementing the energy strategy in Morocco. This includes Law No. 13-09 on renewable energy, enacted by Dahir No. 1-10-16 on Safar 26, 1431 (11 February 2010), published in the Official Gazette No. 5822 on Rabii II 1, 1431 (18 March 2010). This law has been amended and supplemented by Law No. 58-15, which encouraged private initiatives in producing, marketing, and exporting renewable energy.
In the context of the Royal High Directives and Morocco’s energy transition objectives, on 27 February 2023, two major Bills related to the renewable energy sector were published in the Official Gazette of Morocco following their adoption by the Parliament. These laws are Law No. 40-19, amending and supplementing Law No. 13-09 on renewable energy, and Law No. 82-21, regulating the self-generation of electric energy. The latter represents a significant milestone in the evolution of Morocco’s national electricity sector, aiming to give a new impetus to decarbonization and enhance the competitiveness of Morocco’s national economy.
A. Main Highlights of Bill No. 40-19:
The recent legislative reforms in Morocco’s energy sector encompass various aspects. Firstly, the law determines the capacity of the national grid to accommodate renewable energy sources without facing operational limitations. This capacity is calculated by Morocco’s national electricity transmission grid operator, l’Office Nationale de l’Eau et de l’Electricité (ONEE) – National Office of Electricity and Water, and is disclosed by l’Autorité Nationale de Régulation Electrique (ANRE) – the National Electricity Regulatory Authority, prior to 31 January each year.
The reform also aims to facilitate solar energy projects by removing the zoning requirement for projects with a capacity of 2 Megawatts (MW) or more, while wind energy projects must still comply with specific zones. Within the same context, a system service fees have been introduced to cover essential services for the stability of frequency, voltage, and exchanges with adjacent countries and managing the intermittency of renewable energy sources at various voltage levels (extra high, high, medium, and low) by Morocco’s national electricity grid operator (ONEE). According to this reform, all renewable energy operators utilizing the national grid are required to pay a fee for grid usage, the amount of which is determined by ANRE and should include costs associated with system services.
The mechanism for selling electricity to the distribution network operator is outlined as per Article 26, allowing for the purchase of up to 40% of the annual electricity production from renewable energy installations, which is subsequently supplied to customers within the operational jurisdiction of the respective distribution network operator. The detailed procedures for these acquisitions will be determined through a dedicated implementing decree.
The reform allows Morocco’s renewable energy operators to obtain an origin certificate verifying the renewable nature of their electricity. Also, the law requires every renewable energy operator to abide by the principle of national preference in their supply, construction, and service contracts. The specific rules for this requirement will be detailed in implementing decrees.
Regarding the aspect of energy storage, the law permits renewable energy operators to build energy storage facilities and take advantage of storage services. The requirements for constructing such facilities and accessing storage services will be detailed in a specific implementing decree. Additionally, guidelines for exporting renewable energy are introduced, requiring a technical opinion from Morocco’s national electricity transmission network operator and approval from the competent authority (Ministry of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development). The exportation will be facilitated through cross-border interconnections with neighboring countries using the national electricity transmission network, as per the agreements regulating interconnections between the relevant countries. The export transactions will be governed by an agreement that outlines the technical and economic conditions for accessing electrical interconnections, including the applicable loss rate, transit tariffs, electricity prices, and system services.
B. Law No. 82-21 – Introduction of A Legislative Framework on Self-Generation of Electricity:
Law No. 82-21 on self-generation of electricity regulates the nature of the grid, voltage levels, and the capacity of the installation used for self-consumption. This law also introduces, for the first time, the right to access electricity storage services, in addition to the right to sell electricity excess to grid operators. Furthermore, it expands the scope of access to the national electricity grid, enabling the transportation of electricity from the production site to the consumption site.
The law introduces new self-generation schemes based on the capacity of the installation and the connection of the production site or final end-use sites to the grid. Under the provisions of Article 3 and subsequent Articles, the new rules include declaring off-grid self-generation installations to the Ministry of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development. Furthermore, self-generation installations below a specified regulatory threshold must be declared by the electricity distribution network operator.
On the other hand, self-generation installations must have a capacity of at least 5 MW to access Morocco’s national grid and must obtain prior authorization from Morocco’s national electricity grid operator. Additionally, self-generation installations with a capacity equal to or greater than 5 MW require prior authorization from the competent authority after consultation with the technical opinion of the national electricity grid operator. If the installation is connected to the medium-voltage grid, the opinion of the relevant electricity distribution network operator must also be sought. The specific procedures for obtaining authorization will be defined through regulatory means, ensuring a streamlined and transparent process for self-generators.
Law No. 82-21 introduces several provisions for the self-generation of electricity. Self-generators are allowed to construct energy storage installations and utilize storage services under Article 15. The conditions for constructing these installations and accessing storage services will be specified in an implementing decree. Moreover, self-generators connected to the national electricity grid are required to pay system service fees, as stated in Article 13. The fees are to be paid to Morocco’s national electricity grid operator, with the specific amount determined by the ANRE at a later date.
With regard to the surplus energy, self-generators have the possibility to sell up to 20% of their annual self-generation production surplus to Morocco’s national electricity grid operator, as authorized by the law. The ANRE will determine the purchase price for the surplus energy. Additionally, self-generators will have the opportunity to obtain an origin certificate certifying the renewable sources of their electricity production. The procedures and responsible entity for issuing the certificate will be outlined in an implementing decree.
The introduction of Laws No. 40-19 and 82-21 undoubtedly reflects a sustainable approach aimed at facilitating the development of a low-carbon national economy and fostering an investment-friendly environment. However, it is crucial to acknowledge the shortcomings within certain provisions of Law No. 82-21 that exhibit contradiction, as highlighted by energy expert Mr. Amin Bennouna. While Article 1 of Law No. 82-21 defines its applicability to any form of “self-generation of electricity, regardless of the source of production,” the Moroccan legislature contradicts itself when it comes to the definition of “absorption capacity” stated in Article 2 of the Law No. 82-21, which is limited to the electricity generated from renewable energy sources.
Furthermore, the definition of a “self-generator” outlined in Article 2 of Law No. 82-21 excludes the ONEE and the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (MASEN). This exclusion raises concerns about the applicability of the law, especially considering that these entities possess the capability to meet the electricity requirements of their offices and workshops if authorized to be self-generators.
Moreover, Article 7 of Law No. 82-21 places restrictions on numerous small-scale renewable energy projects with capacities below 5 MW that inject electricity into the medium-voltage grid, hindering their eligibility for self-generation authorization. Primarily targeting large-scale projects, Article 7 impedes the progress of small-scale initiatives. Additionally, Article 12 of the Law No. 82-21 prohibits the injection of more than 20% of the energy produced, consequently limiting the available power for consumers. This limitation can have adverse effects on consumers if they connect multiple devices, potentially resulting in electrical overload and the tripping of circuit breakers. Therefore, Article 12 does not genuinely foster the accelerated development of renewable energy.
Despite its merits, Law No. 82-21 fails to address collective self-generation, which is applicable to buildings, and G + 2 storey buildings, representing a significant portion of households in Morocco, i.e., over 90%. This omission contradicts the royal directives aimed at accelerating the development of renewable energy in Morocco. Therefore, to foster a comprehensive and inclusive dialogue, it is crucial to review and revise these legislative provisions. By doing so, Morocco can ensure that its legal framework aligns with the national objectives of advancing renewable energy and achieving a sustainable energy future.
In conclusion, renewable energy is not merely a new energy source that can be substituted for fossil fuels with a few adjustments to techniques and infrastructure. It is not just a technological solution but a process of transitioning towards an alternative energy paradigm. Morocco is continuously keeping up with the advancements in the sector to accelerate the strengthening of its technological development capabilities. The new legal reforms introduced by Laws No. 40-19 and 82-21 aim to address the legal challenges operators face, enhancing the attractiveness of the renewable energy sector in Morocco and accelerating the emergence of a national ecosystem for renewable energy technologies.
Additionally, Law No. 82-21 will play a crucial role in streamlining the implementation of Morocco’s national green hydrogen offer, a comprehensive initiative that spans the entire value chain and ecosystem. Introducing this new regulatory framework guides the development of renewable energy-powered electrolysis, fostering a sustainable and efficient approach.
Lastly, it is essential to note that the energy issue is not isolated and should be addressed in conjunction with concerns related to water, waste, transportation, real estate, urban planning, and biodiversity. Environmental challenges must be tackled collectively to facilitate the establishment of decentralized governance for these issues.
This document is intended to provide general information to the clients of URITI and other interested individuals. It is not meant to be an exhaustive or comprehensive source of information nor a legal advice.
About the Author
Ms. Kenza Bounjou is the Founding Partner at URITI, Casablanca, Morocco. With over 12 years of experience, Kenza specializes in corporate, finance and projects. She advises financial institutions, private equity funds, energy companies, multinational corporations and public entities on high profile transactions in Africa. She is well-versed in the operational challenges specific to the continent and also has a firm grasp of local nuances.
Before founding URITI in 2022, Kenza headed the Project Finance department of Dentons in Casablanca with a particular focus on Francophone Africa. Prior to joining Dentons, she was an associate within Magic Circle (Clifford Chance, Allen & Overy) and White & Case in Paris and Casablanca. Kenza was also a legal counsel at Credit Agricole CIB in New York City.
Ms. Wiame El Mouadden Lalami is a Junior Associate at URITI, Casablanca, Morocco. Before joining URITI, Wiame has worked within law firms and companies specialized in renewable energy and new technologies in Morocco. Wiame holds a Master’s degree in environmental law and sustainable development. She is focusing on the development aspects of Energy and Infrastructure projects in Africa, including the regulatory aspects related to energy and environmental laws.
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