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Morocco takes lead in climate change fight, but at what cost?

Morocco is pushing forward with an ambitious renewable energy sector, but its policies may be doing more harm than good.
A thermosolar power plant is pictured at Noor III near the city of Ouarzazate, Morocco, November 4, 2016. Picture taken November 4, 2016. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal - RTX2S18M
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During the COP22, the United Nation’s climate conference that is currently taking place (Nov. 7-18) in Marrakech, journalists are being taken to visit the kingdom’s most ambitious project, the solar plant NOOR I. Noor, which mean “light” in Arabic, is the world’s largest concentrated solar plant and started functioning in Ouarzazate in February. Still under expansion, the Ouarzazate solar plant will cover an area as large as 4,200 football fields (3,000 hectares) and provide electricity for 1.1 million Moroccans.

Morocco has launched an ambitious strategy to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions with a focus on the energy sector, according to a Heinrich Boll Foundation report. Morocco’s Green Investment Plan is spending $11.5 billion on solar and wind energy programs over a period of 10 years. By 2030, Morocco aims to cover 52% of its energy needs with renewables.

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