Xlinks Morocco-UK Power Project
This is a proposal to create 10.5 GW of renewable generation, 20 GWh of battery storage and a 3.6 GW high-voltage direct current (HVDC) interconnector to carry solar and wind-generated electricity from Morocco to the United Kingdom.
The reasoning behind it is that Morocco has far more consistent weather, and so should be able to provide relatively consistent power year-round.
If built, the 3,800 km cable would be the longest undersea power cable in the world by far. It would able to supply 7.5% of the UK's electricity demand for much of the time.
You can find out more about the project here.
To get an update on some of the current issues around the project itself, this is a useful source.
But there are other sides to this story. And they are sides that too many people in the UK choose to ignore.
Should Africa pay the price for the UK’s net-zero ambitions?
It is very well summarised in this article.
Apart from the damage to the existing lands, the material and other implications of the project are very well summarised in the section of the article headed What is 'clean' about long cables?
And to quote the article "...let's not have any delusions about what the project is really about. It is not mostly about renewables and providing the UK with cleaner forms of energy. It is mainly about making its founders and directors very wealthy indeed."
What may be lost?
The region of Guelmim-Oued Noun is one of the twelve regions of Morocco. The southeastern part of the region is located in the disputed territory of Western Sahara and a small strip of land in this area is administered by the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.
The Moussem of Tan-Tan is an annual gathering of nomadic peoples of the Sahara that brings together more than thirty tribes from southern Morocco and other parts of northwest Africa.
Nomadic populations are particularly concerned to protect their way of life. Economic and technical upheavals in the region have profoundly altered the lifestyle of the nomadic Bedouin communities. Many of them have been forced to settle. Urbanization and rural exodus have contributed to the loss of many aspects of their traditional culture, such as crafts and poetry. Bedouin communities rely strongly on the Moussem of Tan-Tan to assist them in ensuring the survival of their know-how and traditions.
Tourism is also an important part of the local economy. Take a look at this article.
For decades the sovereignty of Western Sahara has been in dispute. To this date, it remains unresolved, and it now seems to be inextricaby linked with the extensive resources in the region, which include not only minerals but sunshine as well.
Renewable energy projects in Western Sahara have already sparked controversy, including Tarfaya Wind Farm.
This article and this one provide background to the current situation.
This paper provides more detailed information about renewable energy projects in occupied Western Sahara.
Is Morocco the answer to the UK's energy independence?
The short answer to this question is - of course - no.
3.6 GW would be a useful contribution to meeting GB demand, but with demand increasing over coming years the figure of 7.5% will be optimistic, and of course the link will not operate all of the time.
And for an alternative discussion, including the issues of risks - including terrorism and damage - try this article.
XLinks Morocco News
December 2022: £18bn project to link UK to huge wind and solar farm in Sahara delayed by a year.
As reported in the The Guardian an £18bn project to link the UK to a huge wind and solar farm in Morocco has been delayed by a year.
The project had been expected to begin generating power by 2027. However, that target date now appears unlikely.
The Xlinks’ executive chair Sir Dave Lewis warned that the recent political turmoil that has seen off three prime ministers in less than six months has stalled its progress.