France wants Morocco’s green hydrogen market. The French employers’ organization MEDEF’s hydrogen task team visited the Kingdom to propose collaboration.
The mission visited with Moroccan sector stakeholders, led by ONHYM, under EDF Director of Africa, Middle East, and Eastern Mediterranean Valérie Levkov.
The two countries were tense during this visit. Paris has been without a British ambassador for months. An official Moroccan source told Macron through Jeune Afrique that Morocco-France relations were “neither excellent nor friendly.”
Notwithstanding these limitations, France is aiming to make a breakthrough in Morocco since it is competing with its neighbor over the Rhine in renewable energies and green hydrogen, not only in Brussels but also in North Africa and Morocco.
The Germans and Spaniards oppose the French proposal to call nuclear hydrogen “green” in the RED III directive negotiations, which establish the EU’s renewable energy goals. France, unlike Germany, relies on nuclear power for most of its electricity.
Berlin has invested and partnered for a decade to produce renewable energies and affordable hydrogen, whereas Paris wanted to use its nuclear history. The Germans properly regarded Morocco as a solid partner with a future in this field.
The 2012 Moroccan-German Energy Partnership (PAREMA) supported the Kingdom’s energy transition. This deal lets German energy companies integrate into Morocco. A well-defined organization says Moroccan state, foundation, and private firms hunt in packs.
Germany is developing an ambitious hydrogen strategy in 2020 to overcome renewable energy intermittency, decarbonize industry and transport, and reduce dependence on Russian gas. to make the country a world leader in this field.
The country will produce this gas locally and invest abroad to secure supply. Berlin knows Morocco is crucial to this approach. “Morocco is a hydrogen investment target because to its sun, wind, and infrastructure,” says Aïcha Oujidi, Hydrogen Project Manager at the German Chamber of Commerce in Morocco.
According to studies, the Kingdom’s green hydrogen prices would be among the lowest in the world. According to Aurora Energy Research, hydrogen supplied from Morocco to Germany via gas pipeline costs 3.72 euros per kg, whereas German-produced hydrogen costs 3.90 euros per kg. Hence, the Kingdom will supply green hydrogen to Europe, especially Germany, due to its location.
Rabat, frustrated by German activism on the Sahara issue, suspended relations with Berlin on March 1, 2021, citing “serious differences.” Until Berlin clarifies, bilateral projects and collaboration with German foundations are on pause.
So, Berlin can add Morocco to its “H2Uppp” program, which encourages green hydrogen projects in poor and rising nations to establish green technology markets through on-site cooperation.
Berlin triumphs? France aims to destroy German ambitions elsewhere while timidly positioning itself in Morocco. Paris threatens to shut the H2Med pipeline, which transports hydrogen between Spain, France, and Germany, if the EU does not approve nuclear-derived hydrogen. H2Med’s connection to the Maghreb-Europe Gas Pipeline is Morocco’s best hydrogen export option. Rabat-Paris-Berlin relations may worsen in the next months.
HM King Mohammed VI is involved because hydrogen could be a future market for Morocco. The Sovereign led a discussion on renewable energy development and new views on November 22, 2022. His Majesty has ordered the development of an operational and incentive “Morocco Offer” covering the entire value chain of Morocco’s green hydrogen sector to place Morocco in the club of countries with high potential in the future green hydrogen sector and respond to investors and world leaders’ multiple projects. The regulatory, institutional, and infrastructure plans should be included.
This method prepares the administrative, legal, and institutional conditions to attract foreign investors and allow them to generate and export green hydrogen at competitive prices.
The December 3, 2022 OCP strategy is the most significant project in this area. Phosphate firm plans to develop an electrolyzer plant to make green ammonia from hydrogen. On January 5, Belgian company John Cockerill announced the development of a gigafactory of alkaline electrolysers in Morocco alongside local partners.
Producing countries will struggle to transport hydrogen, which is expensive and tricky. Gas pipeline transport is the greatest solution. Morocco will export hydrogen to Europe via the Maghreb-Europe Gas Pipeline (GME).
This gas pipeline must be sealed to achieve this. JESA, an OCP affiliate, estimated that converting the gas pipeline would cost 10–35% of its total cost.
It could join the H2Med gas pipeline in Europe. The Iberian Peninsula-France-Germany-Northern Europe gas pipeline should be operational by 2030. H2Med can carry 2 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen per year, 10% of 2030 European use.