1. What electricity storage projects have been commissioned in your jurisdiction to date?

There is currently one operational pumped hydro storage station in Afourer, Morocco, with a capacity of 460 MW. This project provides for time shifted electricity supply capacity and spinning reserve capacity. The Afourer pumped storage station, which was completed in 2004, is owned by the Moroccan Government.1 It was developed by the Moroccan state owned electricity company, the National Electricity Office, and private companies such as Alstom were also involved. 

More recently, the Moroccan Government has developed the Noor Project, which is currently one of the world’s largest thermal solar power stations. The Government plans to expand the capacity to 580 MW. The first phase of this project, the Noor I station in Ouarzazate, was inaugurated in February 2016. Noor I has a thermal storage system with a capacity of more than 3 hours.2

2. What electricity storage projects are anticipated in your jurisdiction in the coming years?

The Moroccan Government intends to develop a second hydro pumped storage project with a capacity of 360 MW, called “STEP Abdelmoumen”, near Agadir3, which is expected to become operational in 2020. 

Moreover, the second and third phases of the Noor project are currently being developed by MASEN, the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy. Just like Noor I, Noor II and Noor III projects aim to install storage capacity of 3 hours each.

3. Is there any specific legislation/regulation or program that relates to energy storage in your jurisdiction?

Electricity storage is not separately defined in the Moroccan legislative framework. The rules concerning the issue of energy storage are to be found in the law applicable to the production of electricity. 

However, with the increasing penetration of renewable energy and the political will to provide access to electricity over the whole Moroccan territory acting as the main drivers, the legislation on electricity storage is likely to develop in the near future. 

Indeed, in its opinion dated 31 March 2011, the Economic and Social Council for Green Energy (the “Economic and Social Council”) has issued specific recommendations for a “successful transition into a Green Economy”. Among a diverse number of recommendations, the Economic and Social Council considers the necessity to achieve a competitive electricity market (art § 28). Three recommendations are made in this regard:

  1. It is necessary to solve the problems of peak power demand and energy storage.
  2. Ensuring a diverse mix of energy sources (“STEP”, biomass, clean coal, liquid natural gas) is recommended.
  3. Developing small and medium power installations (particularly renewable energy) is recommended.

In addition, the legislative decree n° 2-14-541 has set out the tasks of the Ministry of Energy. According to Article 1, the Ministry has to implement “a strategic energy storage policy” and “to control the organization and the functioning of the electricity markets”, in the framework of the consolidation of a liberalised energy market. 

It is also worth noting that the Moroccan Institute for Standardization (“IMANOR”) has recently enacted standards applying to battery storage.4 Standard NM CEI 61427-1 regulates the general conditions applying to the battery storage for renewable energy, NM EN 12977-3 regulates the performance testing methods applying to the storage installations for water solar heating, and NM EN 12977-4 regulates the conditions applying to the combined storage methods for solar heating. These standards adopt the international standards in the electricity storage area.5  With regard to the legislation already in force relevant to the issue of electricity storage, the law 13-09 related to renewable energy regulates the conditions under which installations producing electricity out of renewable energy sources can be installed and operated.6 Law 13-09 has liberalised the system of electricity production based on renewable energy sources. 

The law provides for three different types of regimes depending on the threshold of energy produced. The installation, operation or modification of stations with an installed capacity less than 20 kW is free (art. 6.1). The installation, operation or modification of stations with an installed capacity over 20 kW and under 2 MW is subject to a declaratory regime (art. 4.1). The installation, operation or modification of stations with an installed capacity equal or over 2 MW is subject to a prior authorisation from the electricity transmission system operator (art. 3). 

Law 58-157 has recently amended Law 13-09, and has brought important modifications. First, Law 58-15 has modified article 1 of Law 13-09 and increased the threshold of electricity production from 2 to 30 MW, for electricity produced from hydro sources. Second, the new draft of article 5 extends the scope of Law 13-09; from now on, electricity stations referred to in law 13-09 will also have access to low voltage electricity grid. Third, according to the new draft of article 6, the manager of a station producing electricity from renewable energy sources is now entitled to sell excess electricity production to the National Electricity Office (“ONEE”) or to the electricity transmission system operator. 

Consequently, those developments might have future consequences on the question of electricity storage in Morocco. However, for the moment, the question of electricity storage in itself is not regulated.

4. Please give examples of challenges facing energy storage projects in your jurisdiction and how current projects have overcome these challenges.

Electricity storage is still at a development stage in Morocco and therefore faces the following challenges:   

  • Lack of a specific legislation regulating electricity storage – the question of storage will be dealt on a case by case basis.
  • Restriction of the electricity resale to the ONEE – although the Law 58-15 allows the resale of excess electricity production to the ONEE or to the electricity transmission system operator, the resale is limited to 20% of the electricity produced.
  • Uncertainty of the electricity production – for electricity produced from hydro sources, the production highly depends on the pluviometry. In a semi-arid country such as Morocco, the production of electricity out of hydro sources can drastically vary from one year to another. For instance, in 2012, due to drought, the electricity produced by hydro stations fell by 15% in comparison with year 20118.
  • Public regulation entities – there is currently no electricity transmission system operator in Morocco. To overcome this gap, the draft legislation n° 48-15 provides for the creation, within the ONEE, of an independent entity in charge of this role. Draft legislation n° 48-15 also provides for the creation of an independent regulator (see below).

5. What are the main entities in the electricity sector and what are their roles or expected roles in relation to energy storage?

Electricity storage in Morocco falls within the scope of competence of the Ministry of Energy, Mines, Water and Environment. 

ONEE is in charge of the production, the transmission and the distribution of electricity. According to art. 2 of law 13-09, ONEE is, in parallel with public and private entities, in charge of the production of electricity based on renewable energy sources. In that regard, the ONEE is the relevant entity concerning all projects that are related to electricity storage. In that regard, on the 4th of November 2015, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Moroccan Government have concluded a guarantee agreement for the loan of 35 million euros granted by the EBRD to the ONEE, for the funding of the rehabilitation project of the hydroelectric plants9

On 17 September 2015, the Council of Government has adopted the draft legislation n° 48-15 regulating the electricity sector, and establishing a National Authority for Electricity Regulation10 (Autorité Nationale de Régulation de l’Electricité –“ANRE”). According to the draft legislation, ANRE will exercise control over the electricity market, and will have power to issue sanctions. In application of Law 13-09, ANRE will regulate the access to the national electricity grid –with the aim of preserving free competition between the private investors, and fix price charges for access to the grid. ANRE will also be in charge of settling disputes that may arise between the electricity transmission system operator and the electricity producers, or between a distribution system operator and an electricity producer. 

This draft legislation has been recently published in the Government’s official gazette11 and will enter into force six months after the date of the entry into force of the ANRE’s executive bodies.