Part of the EDF Group, the global frontrunner in clean energy, EDF Renewables develops, builds and operates green power plants. Your professional background is in law and you have been CEO of EDF Renewables Morocco for approximately two years, having first joined the company in 2014. To begin the interview, can you tell us how you have leveraged your legal expertise to inform your current role?
Indeed, my path to my current job was a bit atypical: I was an international arbitration attorney in Washington, DC prior to moving to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). One of my assignments was as the DOJ Representative for North Africa, so Morocco was quite familiar to me already. In addition to working with senior government officials in a diplomatic context, I’ve found that a background in law is highly valuable in my current position since contracts are truly the backbone of all of our projects, whether in project development, construction management or, as a last resort, in disputes.
EDF Group’s strategic vision, CAP 2030, aims to increase energy efficiency while also decarbonizing in the fight against climate change. EDF also aims for complete carbon-dioxide neutrality by 2050. How would you evaluate the progress the group has made thus far and can you bring us up to date on your decarbonization initiatives?
Committed to the fight against climate change, the EDF Group is a world leader in low-carbon energy production. Since the launch of its CAP 2030 strategy in 2015, EDF has significantly accelerated the development of renewable energy generation resources—such as hydro, onshore wind, offshore wind and solar—to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, with growth of around 10 percent year-on-year in our secured generation capacity.
EDF Renewables, a subsidiary of the group, is accelerating its development of solar energy worldwide with 43 GW of projects under development and a presence in 22 countries. EDF Renewables is also strengthening its development in onshore wind power with a pipeline of 20 GW projects worldwide. Moreover, EDF Renewables is an expert in offshore wind and a pioneer in floating offshore wind technology.
Thanks to its teams of researchers with varied expertise and through strategic partnerships, EDF continues to innovate in technologies with the aim of improving their performance and competitiveness. Those technologies are floating offshore wind, floating solar, storage, agri-photovoltaic, recyclable blades, wind repowering, microgrids and, since April, it has had ambitious goals in green hydrogen.
“EDF Renewables has decided on Casablanca as the hub for our wider North and West African ambitions, ensuring our presence in the country for the long-term, be it for domestic or regional projects.”
EDF Renewables is a French company with a vast network of operations around the globe. How would you define the role of its operations in Morocco within the overall strategy of the company?
EDF Renewables continues to expand in Morocco, with a four-fold increase in the size of our team in recent years. We recognize Morocco’s comparative advantages: best-in-class solar and wind resources, a commitment to stability and ensuring fair investment opportunities, and its talented pool of renewables and construction experts.
Our projects in Morocco align well with our global objectives: pursuing development in onshore wind, including repowering of existing wind farms. We’re also active in solar energy with the 800 MW Noor Midelt project, which remains a top priority for EDF Renewables and its partners Masdar and Green of Africa.
And then, in line with the group’s strategy of reaching 3 GW of electrolysis capacity by 2030, EDF Renewables is making Morocco one of its targeted countries to develop low carbon hydrogen and its derivatives.
What are your expectations for EDF Renewables’ ongoing international expansion into promising emerging markets over the next few years?
EDF Renewables is an international leader in renewable electricity generation with 10.1 GW net of installed wind and solar capacity worldwide in 2021. Mainly present in Europe and North America, EDF Renewables is pursuing its development by taking positions in promising emerging markets such as Brazil, China, India, South Africa, the Middle East, East Asia and Latin America. We’re bringing our expertise to countries committed to decarbonizing their energy and increasing their energy sovereignty, strongly considering the local industrialization objectives and in close consultation with the local population.
The Taza wind farm project in Morocco is a flagship EDF Renewables initiative and is expected to be fully operational in 2022. It has also been announced that EDF Renewables is preparing to launch the Koudia Al Baida wind farm repowering project alongside the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (MASEN). Can you bring us up to date on these schemes?
The work on Taza Phase 1 is now almost complete with the installation and commissioning of 27 wind turbines for a total capacity of 87 MW, which will produce the electricity equivalent of the annual consumption of 350,000 people. Since the Taza project was originally awarded for 150 MW, we are now working with our institutional partners—the National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE) and MASEN—on how to move forward on Phase 2 of this project.
As of now, we are close to reaching the financial closing of the 100 MW Koudia Al Baida wind farm. It was developed almost entirely on land already occupied by an existing 50 MW wind farm that EDF Renewables, through its subsidiary Compagnie Eolienne de Detroit, originally conceived and then operated for 19 years. The project will be the first repowering project of a wind farm in Africa. This will have a strong showcasing effect for a number of other projects reaching the end of their operational life in the region. The project was co-developed with, and will be co-owned 50:50 by, EDF Renewables and MASEN.
As you mentioned, EDF Renewables is also part of an international consortium that will build the 800 MW Noor Midelt solar complex. How will this project contribute to the country’s overall energy mix?
The 800 MW Noor Midelt solar complex will contribute by increasing Morocco’s total installed capacity by about 7 percent, providing the equivalent of the annual electricity consumption of more than a million people. It will help achieve Morocco’s energy goals of meeting 52-percent renewable capacity in its total installed capacity by 2030 and raising the share of its energy mix sourced from renewables to 80 percent by 2050.
EDF Renewables and its partners Masdar and Green of Africa are fully committed to the Noor Midelt project. We are following this project very closely and are in regular contact with MASEN and Morocco’s Ministry of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development to achieve financial closing on the project.
Moving forward, what is your strategic vision for continuing to consolidate EDF Renewables’ position within Morocco, and for ensuring the ongoing growth and success of the company as a key partner in renewable energy development?
First of all, after 10 years in the Moroccan market and now with three major projects—Noor Midelt, Koudia and Taza—either completed or in the final stages of development, EDF Renewables has established itself as a major and experienced player in Morocco. Particularly with the Taza project, we have proven—in close coordination with many public and private sector stakeholders—that we can deliver on our promises for reliable project execution.
Second, leveraging the exceptional human capital that EDF Renewables is renowned for both in Morocco and in our headquarters in France, we are positioning ourselves to deploy numerous cutting-edge technologies in Morocco and the region, including Green hydrogen and energy storage.
Finally, EDF Renewables has decided on Casablanca as the hub for our wider North and West African ambitions, ensuring our presence in the country for the long-term, be it for domestic or regional projects.
Do you have any final comments for the readers of Newsweek?
We are honored to celebrate 10 years in Morocco, and to do so with the completion of Taza Phase 1 and the launching of the Koudia repowering project is a testament to our long-term commitment to the Kingdom. These projects contribute to our reason for existence—that is to build a net-zero energy future with electricity and innovative solutions and services, to help save the planet, and to drive wellbeing and economic development.