The OCP Group, concerned about the evolution towards alternatives provided by renewable energies, has announced its intention to invest 7 billion dollars in an ammonia plant using green hydrogen, to promote production and export. fertilizers and low-carbon phosphates, according to Reuters. This amount should finance the construction of the factory in Tarfaya.
For Morocco, the trend towards renewable energies has become an official strategic bet, to take important steps to achieve a reduction in emissions and to seek viable energy alternatives until reaching the stage of carbon neutrality. Amin Bennouna, professor at Cadi Ayyad University and director of the “Monograph of energy in Morocco” project, delivered to MoroccoLatestNews his reading of the objectives to be achieved for OCP in its new strategy. As a whole, it has nothing to do with industry, he says, but rather with water. It is a strategy that wants to avoid excessive exploitation of the water supply of wells, rivers, dams, etc.
Bennouna added that“it is planned to rely on desalinated seawater, after the Board noticed that large amounts of water and energy are wasted, so an alternative was needed”. And the energy expert mentions that “ammonia is included in this strategy. El Jadida, and the Office Chérifien des Phosphates currently consume two million tonnes (it is probable that they will reach, within the limit of 2030, 3 million) of ammonia annually from abroad, Morocco does not not producing and is in need of hydrogen and nitrogen“.
The speaker noted that “the previous strategy was based on the local production of one million tons of ammonia, and the import of another million tons, since the needs are two million tons. But today, we turned to the green alternative to ammonia. And this green ammonia, continued Bennouna, that “ Morocco is trying to produce to break with ordinary ammonia, this is ammonia produced from renewable energy in Morocco”.
For the expert, “no way“, the new strategy ‘ aims to supply the quantities that will be necessary for the production of phosphate. However, with renewed energies, the volume of phosphate production in Morocco is expected to increase in the coming years.“. Bennouna noted that “Morocco currently produces around 40 million tonnes of this substance, but in the coming years this will increase to 70 million tonnes”. Consequently, the surplus will go, in large part, to OCP’s phosphate factories or to partners in Africa. The expert also attributed this “to the fact that Morocco will only specialize in the production of green manures, and that therefore the quantity of green ammonia that will be available will not be sufficient to produce this quantity of phosphates “.
For his part, El Houssine El Yamani, General Secretary of National Union of Petroleum and Gas Industriestold MoroccoLatestNews that Morocco encounters difficulties because of the energy bill, and we are still dependent on foreign countries. And this, with a rate of more than 90%, despite all the efforts we have made in terms of renewable energies ‘. El Yamani added that “the ammonia production strategy aims to push in the direction of green energy, in order to reduce energy costs. Because there is a cost that does not appear to the naked eye, except for direct energy resources, such as the cost of basic chemicals and manufacturing materials, within which is the ammonia…” .
According to Al-Yamani, ammonia would advance the fertilizer manufacturing sector and the phosphate industry, in which Morocco is a world leader especially in light of its recent price hike, although this has had a significant impact on the amount of phosphate production in Morocco. The trade unionist alluding in this to the high price of ordinary, imported ammonia. This has contributed to Morocco producing significant proportions of phosphates, and therefore for export, Morocco has made significant transactions, remarkable in the history of OCP.
Also, for this reason, Yamani points out that the switch to the production of green ammonia, in order to exempt Morocco from the energy cost of ammonia, is an important project for the Kingdom. However, the hydrogen industry in Morocco is still in the transition phase from experimentation to industrialization. And the best part is that all countries have been intensively involved in the field of renewable energies, and Morocco’s project is to produce hydrogen from natural processes (sun, water, wind, etc.). It is a great ambition, with guaranteed prospects of success, which will strengthen Morocco’s energy position in the region and in the world.