While the European Union is working on a project to tax electricity produced outside the EU and outside its environmental standards, Spain has just stopped its imports of Moroccan electricity.
Spain cut short its imports of Moroccan electricity on April 3, just after media coverage by the magazine El Periódico de la Energía of the new topic of reflection of the European Commission. This deals with an anti-dumping measure, which could result in a taxation of electricity imported from countries outside the European Union (EU), particularly Morocco, where environmental standards are not the same as in inside the EU.
Until then, Spain imported daily Moroccan electricity, produced in particular by the Safi coal plants (commissioned in December 2018 and operated by the French group Engie) and Jerada (built and commissioned by Chinese Sepco). Energy cost less than that produced in Spain, since not subject to carbon emission taxes in force on European electricity. However, according to the Spanish information website, electricity production is on average 3.5 times more CO2 emitting in Morocco than in Spain.
According to data from the IESOE (South Western Europe Electricity Interconnection), until July 2018, Spain was using the two submarine interconnection cables between Spain and Morocco to export electricity to the Cherifian Kingdom (5,690 GWh exported in 2017, and 3,515 GWh exported in 2018). But since November 2018, the Iberian Peninsula has imported 443 GWh of electricity from Morocco, compared to 154 GWh for 2018 and only 3 GWh in 2017. This change is consistent with the commissioning of the two new Moroccan coal plants.
It therefore seems that Spain was taking advantage of the more polluting production of Moroccan electricity to supply its networks, while it is engaged in a “decarbonisation” plan on its territory and plans to close the majority of its coal-fired power plants.
In Morocco, the Safi coal-fired power plant has a production capacity of 1,400 megawatts. Presented as a “clean” power plant by Engie, it must make it possible to satisfy up to 25% of Moroccan electricity demand. Its commissioning will have required a global investment of approximately 2.1 billion euros, financed by a consortium whose shareholders are the French group Engie (35%), the Moroccan holding Nareva and the Japanese group Mitsui & Co (30%).
As part of a public-private partnership, the consortium resells all electricity produced to the National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water (Onee) for thirty years, until the total transfer of plant assets at Onee.