Energies renouvelables: un retour sur investissement de plus en plus court

a shorter and shorter return on investment

L’The era of a long return on investment in energy transition, particularly renewable energies, is visibly over in Morocco. Remember that since 2009, with the advent of the Moroccan Solar Plan, investments amounting to several billion dirhams have been made nationally by both the public and private sectors (national and international investors, companies).

At the international level, the multiplication of investments in greentechs and renewable energies has contributed to strengthening the competitiveness of clean energies in comparison with energies of fossil origin, the prices of which continue to soar on the international market due, among other things , of the war in Ukraine. “The fall in the cost of photovoltaic energy has been continuous since the 1980s. Sunshine being a constant factor specific to each location, the evaluation criterion is the cost per watt peak installed. Thus, the first solar panels in the 1980s cost up to 600 DH per watt peak. In 2015, a complete installation cost between 15 and 20 DH per watt peak. Today, the cost is less than 10 DH”explains Hakim Marrakchi, head of Maghreb Industries.

It should be specified that the cost of the peak watt takes into account all the elements necessary for production. As such, let us quote the panels, the inverters, the cables, the rails, in addition to the labor of installation and the study. Other costs, such as any reinforcement of the roof, civil engineering costs or the cost of land, for example, are not taken into account. Badr Ikken, former Managing Director of Iresen and Executive Chairman of Green Innov Industry Investment (GI3), agrees with Hakim Marrakchi.

“Beyond the pandemic crisis, there has been a significant drop in equipment prices in Morocco in recent years. For example, we note that for solar power plant projects of 500 Kwh and 1 MW, the cost per kwh is displayed at less than 30 cents”, underlines the president of GI3. Knowing that a project of more than 200 MW can generate a cost of less than 20 cents/kwh. That is to say the level of competitiveness compared to the cost of the kwh of electricity of fossil origin (1.07 DH). That said, our two sources do not fail to point out that the inflationary context that prevails nationally and internationally would tend to drive up the cost of clean energy.

“The fall in costs is now curbed by the inflation observed for 18 months”, underlines the boss of Maghreb Industries, equipped with a green factory. According to Badr Ikken, the renewable energy sector is going through a somewhat difficult period due to the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, the rise in transport prices for components imported from China and certain difficulties recorded in Europe. . These economic factors, which obviously have an impact on the cost of renewable energy projects, do little to calm the ardor of supporters of clean energies, comforted by the threshold of fossil fuel prices on the international market. Likewise, it is important to underline that the other key parameter for the amortization time of the investment in renewable energies is the price of electricity.

“You should know that in Europe, the amortization time has been divided by two and a half due to the rise in the price of electricity”, reveals Badr Ikken. And explain: “In Morocco, the cost of electricity production has increased due to the increase in fossil fuel prices (coal, oil, gas), but the price inflation has not been passed on to the consumer in order to preserve its purchasing power. If one day in Morocco the price of electricity paid by the consumer increases, the amortization time of investments in renewable energies will be reduced in the same proportions recorded in Europe..

For the time being, an industrialist who produces in Morocco nearly 70% of his electricity needs from solar energy, manages to amortize his investments after 4 years or a little more. Moreover, electric mobility, which attracts more Moroccans, has never been so competitive due to the overheating of prices at the pump. Along the same lines, it emerges from several calculations and models relating to the production of green ammonia in Morocco, a production price of 600 dollars per ton. Knowing that the ton of ammonia imported by the Kingdom has gone from 250-300 dollars to more than 1,200 dollars today. As a result, the current global situation militates in favor of the production of green ammonia at the national level.

Photovoltaic solar energy: Casablanca, a bastion of competitiveness?

Hakim Marrakchi is formal. The main source of the fall in the cost of photovoltaic energy was due to the better yields of photovoltaic panels. “At the beginning of this century, the panels produced less than 100 watts peak. Currently, some producers advertise more than 600 peak watts per panel. The service life of the panels is theoretically guaranteed for more than 20 years. The price of inverters has also fallen and these have a lifespan of around 10 years., assures the businessman. The vice-president of the CGEM and president of the Taxation and Customs Commission continues by affirming that the average cost of the kwh of photovoltaic energy produced in Casablanca was higher than 1.20 DH / kwh at the beginning of the century, against less than 20 cents today. Note that this assumes, however, that all the energy produced is consumed, which is often not the case. And this, due to non-working days (Saturday, Sunday, public holidays, holidays) and the peak of sunshine, likely to cause an excess of electricity not consumed.

Ways to optimize production

According to the professionals, unless you have means of energy storage, you have to be satisfied with a number of panels corresponding to the electricity consumption at noon in May. On the other hand, if an industrialist has a means of storage, he can go well beyond that and maximize the production of solar energy. There are several ways to store or maximize this production, including lithium ion batteries identical to those of electric cars. They have a storage cost of around 1 DH per kWh. Thermal batteries are perfectly compatible with residential buildings, shopping centers and certain industries.

According to the boss of Maghreb Industries, these make it possible to store energy at a cost of less than 0.30 DH per kWh. Other systems exist, but the installation is more complex. These are WWTPs, to name only that of Afourer, and compressed air storage. “For homes and commercial units that often consume a lot of air conditioning or heating, the thermal storage system installed in the Maghreb Industries plant in Casablanca is perfectly suited”, reveals Marrakech. The latter explains that some cities in the United Arab Emirates have set up District cooling which, if combined with the thermal storage mentioned above, makes it possible to decarbonize an entire district, in addition to reducing the energy bill and improving the quality of life of the inhabitants.

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