Green energy revolution: The Morocco-UK Power Project to power 7 million homes in the UK by 2030

Set to help the country to achieve a zero-carbon electricity network by 2035.
Jijo Malayil
Field of Solar Panels in the Desert
Field of Solar Panels in the Desert

adamkaz/iStock 

As the United Kingdom reels under the pressure of rising energy prices, a silent transformation is taking place nearly 2,485 miles (4,000 kilometers) away to curb its dependence on conventional forms of power generation. 

A desert at ​​Guelmim Oued Noun in central Morocco will primarily play host to the Morocco-UK Power Project, which aims to develop 10.5GW of renewable energy from solar and wind power, of which 3.6GW would be supplied to the UK, for an average of 20+ hours a day.

The zero-carbon energy will be transported using four 2,361-mile (3,800 kilometers) subsea HVDC cables, helping the UK to fulfill eight percent of its energy requirements by 2030. The project also includes the setting up of a 20GWh battery facility to ensure a near-constant supply of power. 

The logistical challenge

The use of HVDC cables can ensure the energy loss from the transmission can be brought down to as low as two percent from nearly 30 percent with conventional alternating-current (AC) systems. The project will also be the longest to use such submarine cables, with the largest network now only measuring 447 miles (720 kilometers) between Britain and Norway.

The project aims to utilize the desert's high solar intensity and convection current winds for achieving the proposed output. The proposed outlay is planned to be achieved by building facilities in approximately 200 kilometers square of available area. The company behind the project, Xlinks, has already signed an agreement with the National Grid of the UK to provide two 1.8GW connections in Devon, helping to supply clean power to over seven million homes in the UK. 

Morocco is also spearheading a move towards clean energy by setting a target of achieving 52 percent of its power capacity from renewable energy by 2030. 

A no-brainer for the UK

The project can help the UK to have a zero-carbon electricity network by 2035 to meet its sixth carbon budget, and aid in the race to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. 

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Moving onto the cost of energy supplied, the company claims that the use of the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme in the UK "would make the project a source of revenue rather than cost, delivering energy at £48 (US$63.43)/MWh CfD, below the government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS’) central forecast for energy prices," Xlinks told Energy Storage News

The project is also set to generate about 10,000 jobs, both in Morocco and the UK combined, over the course of the next eight years. 

Is the project as green as it looks? 

The amount of resources and energy needed to deliver such a large-scale project with batteries, aluminum cables, and solar equipment raises the question of how much renewable energy projects just offset the carbon footprint to a different location. 

The argument of offloading advanced nations' carbon outputs to other developing parts of the world with such projects has also attracted criticism lately.