Short comparison between countries in North Africa

Regarding energy in North Africa, all countries have two things in common: growing demand for power and a high potential for renewables, especially wind and solar. While having seemingly similar prospects and needs, their paths and motivations for investing in renewables vary.

Morocco is one of the leading countries in renewable energy expansion. The 2016 host country of the COP22 set itself a highly ambitious target of 52% renewables by 2030 and is already working towards the target, reaching 19% in 2020 with several large-scale solar projects starting operation in the past years and more being planned. A significant motivating factor for Morocco is the prospect of mitigating its dependency on imports, which is currently still high. 71% of Morocco's electricity is still produced from coal. While the country wants to extend its electrical connections to Spain and Portugal, it will still take time for potential exports to become ripe for discussion. Egypt is similarly ambitious, wanting to reach 42% renewables in their electricity production by 2035. Reforms in the energy sector have also significantly increased investments, and the country is reaching out to European countries for partnerships. Just like Morocco, Tunisia relies heavily on imports. 95% of its electricity is still produced through natural gas. The country used to live off its resources and even exported oil and gas, but around 2000 the reserves started running out, and its import dependency increased. Its goal is to reach 35% of renewables in electricity production by 2030.

Not all North African countries rely on imports. On the contrary: Algeria and Libya export natural gas and crude oil. Their motivations toward renewables, however, differ. Algeria, as a key player in the global oil and gas market, sees a strategy to minimize its fossil-based resource consumption and maximize export. It has set a target of 27% by 2030 and has been investing in large-scale solar & onshore wind since 2015. Libya struggles with power outages and may profit from renewables as a more decentralized energy system. Currently, almost all of Libya’s electricity is produced centrally through its oil and gas resources. The ministry for oil and gas did set up a plan to expand renewable energy to reach 10% in 2025, but it currently seems unlikely it will reach its target.

It is to be noted that all percentages in this article refer to the electricity production and not the total energy consumption, where the share of renewables is progressing much slower.