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EU looks to free itself from Russian energy using world’s largest concentrated solar plant: ‘Reliability is key’

“The question of energy security, or the question of energy sovereignty, is more than ever a major consideration.”

“The question of energy security, or the question of energy sovereignty, is more than ever a major consideration."

Photo Credit: iStock

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has accelerated attempts by European nations to move away from energy typically sourced from the largest country in the world. 

Oil, gas, and coal have been exported from Russia in vast quantities for years, but alternatives are now being sought to meet national energy demands without having to import from a country that is waging an illegal war. 

The European Union banned seaborne imports of Russian fuel in February 2023, following a ban on seaborne crude oil imports in December 2022, as Reuters reported. Once Russia’s biggest customer, accounting for 50% of the country’s exports, the EU now only takes in an 8% share. 

Additionally, Morocco’s solar projects are offering a solution to provide clean, sustainable energy to Europe via undersea power cables, as reported by the Washington Post. Morocco, which already has an electrical pipeline to Spain, is now positioning itself as a global leader in renewable power. 

“The question of energy security, or the question of energy sovereignty, is more than ever a major consideration,”  Nasser Bourita, Moroccan foreign minister, said, per the Post, after a deal that will see the country partner with the EU on green initiatives. “Reliability is key.”

According to the outlet, past proposals for North African energy projects suggest the region could provide as much as 15% of Europe’s electricity demand. 

The publication also cited the International Renewable Energy Agency’s figures that say North Africa has installable capacities of 2,792 gigawatts of solar power and 223 gigawatts of wind power, with more projects on the way.

Among them is the world’s largest concentrated solar field near the city of Ouarzazate, which has five miles’ worth of solar mirrors in the desert that are capable of creating power even when the sun sets, thanks to reflected heat. 

Morocco has already agreed to supply the United Kingdom with electricity created from solar energy via an undersea cable stretching 2,361 miles, providing up to seven million homes with clean power by 2030. 

But continental Europe could be the next big beneficiary, with energy economist Jonathan Walters telling the Washington Post that solar energy generation in North Africa has “almost unlimited potential.”

If a deal between the EU and Morocco comes to pass, not only will it allow the 27 member states to reduce their reliance on Russia, but it will also help to significantly cut pollution from dirty energy sources that contribute to global heating. 

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