Climate Resilience for Energy Transition in Morocco

About this report

Country summary

  • The average annual temperature in Morocco has increased in recent decades and this is more pronounced in the hottest and driest months (from April to June). Climate projections indicate that the rise in temperatures will continue to the end of this century, with more frequent, intense and widespread heatwaves. It will lead to a notable increase in energy demand for cooling, with the probability of raising Morocco’s reliance on regional interconnections. Heatwaves can also affect transmission efficiency and power generation from solar PV and wind power plants.
  • Morocco has become progressively more arid and the decrease in mean annual precipitation in the country may continue, especially in a high-emissions scenario. Climate projections also show that more frequent and severe droughts could occur in central and southern Morocco. Declining precipitation and more droughts are likely to interrupt hydropower and coal-fired power generation, which require a large amount of water for power generation and cooling. Morocco is already making efforts to shift towards less water-intensive technologies, such as pumped hydropower storage and natural gas combined-cycle power plants.
  • The energy sector is central to Morocco’s climate change strategy, contributing the largest share of its mitigation efforts. One of the key measures is the expansion of renewable electricity generation from a share of 17.6% in 2020 to of 52% by 2030. Given that renewable energy technologies are generally sensitive to climatic conditions and can be negatively affected by climate change, building climate resilience will become more important. However, the energy sector’s climate resilience has been less discussed compared to other sectors, while there has been notable progress in adaptation and resilience policies for water, agriculture, biodiversity and fisheries.
  • To ensure a climate-resilient energy transition in Morocco, establishing a dedicated sectoral plan for the energy sector will be the first step. The sectoral plan could include concrete actions such as a comprehensive assessment of climate impacts, development of specialised plans for high-risk areas, evaluation of the effect of diversification on the energy mix, and a shift to water-efficient and heat-resilient technologies. In addition, developing specific strategies for the energy sector against various types of climate hazard could support the continuous operation of energy systems in the face of climate-driven disasters. 

Level of floods, droughts and tropical cyclones in Morocco, 2000-2020


Level of warming in Morocco, 2000-2020



Morocco’s seasons are characterised by mild and wet winters and hot and dry summers, as in other Mediterranean countries. However, the country also shows some geographical variation in its climate, ranging from more temperate areas in the north influenced by the Mediterranean Sea, to arid and desert-like areas in the southern and south-eastern provinces influenced by the Sahara Desert and the Atlantic Ocean.

The average annual temperature in Morocco increased by 1.7°C between 1971 and 2017. However, the increase varied significantly depending on geographical location and season. Geographically, the central-northern and northern areas saw the greatest increase in temperature, over 2°C in cities like Ojuda, Taza, Errachidia and Beni Melal. Seasonally, the warming was most pronounced from April to June, the hottest and driest months.

Climate models show that the rise in temperature continues in Morocco under all temperature pathways to the end of this century. Under a medium level of greenhouse gas concentration,1 the average annual temperature increase is projected to reach 1.5°C to 1.8°C in 2050, compared with the reference period of 1981-2018. Under a high-emissions scenario2 the average annual temperature rise could reach between 2°C to 3°C. If greenhouse gas emissions are not mitigated, Morocco could experience more frequent and intense heat waves.

Rising temperatures in Morocco have rapidly increased cooling degree days (CDDs) by an average of 3.5% per year over the past two decades, while heating degree days (HDDs) have diminished by an average of 2% per year since 2000. This could result in a notable increase in energy demand for cooling, which would outweigh a relatively small decrease in energy consumption for heating purposes. A hotter climate could strain the power system by driving rapid increases in the penetration of cooling devices in Morocco, from 9.3% in 2015 to up to 49% by 2030 in the residential sector.

To withstand rising peak demand in summer, Morocco is increasingly relying on its regional interconnections. Net imports of electricity increased from 2 TWh in 2006 to 5.3 TWh in 2016, which represented 14% of the country’s total electricity supply. Power imports from Spain have reached record highs in the last four years, causing net power purchases in June to jump to more than 200 GWh. The continuing increase in temperatures could require the expansion of existing interconnected networks, as well as the development of new interconnectors with Spain and Portugal.

Temperature in Morocco, 2000-2020


Cooling degree days in Morocco, 2000-2020


Heating degree days in Morocco, 2000-2020


Rising temperatures could also add stress to Morocco’s power generation and distribution system. Given that heatwaves are likely to become more frequent, intense and widespread, some parts of the energy system (e.g. solar PV, wind power, grids) could be increasingly affected. Solar PV and wind power generation could degrade during heatwaves, as they are generally designed for conditions around 25°C. Rising temperatures also reduce transmission capacity and lead to higher losses by making power lines heat up, expand or sag. Given that the share of solar PV and wind power and the length of power grids are likely to grow in Morocco, their climate resilience is likely to become more important.

According to the IEA’s projections based on IPCC climate scenarios,3 most existing solar PV capacity in Morocco would experience over 20 more days per year with a maximum temperature above 35°C under a low-emissions scenario (Below 2°C)4 and over 40 days under a high-emissions scenario (Above 4°C)5 in 2080-2100 compared with 1850-1900. This is higher than the world average. In the global assessment, only one-third of global solar PV would be exposed to over 20 more days with a maximum temperature above 35°C in a low-emissions scenario (Below 2°C) and two-thirds to over 40 more days in a high-emissions scenario (Above 4°C). In hot weather above 35°C, solar panel temperatures can go up to 70°C and reduce solar PV efficiency by 13.5-22.5% leading to a notable reduction in generation output if no adaptation measures or technological enhancements are undertaken.

Solar PV in Morocco exposed to a hotter climate by climate scenario, 2021-2100


Wind power plants in Morocco will also see an increase in the number of days with a maximum temperature above 35°C in all scenarios. Half of all installed capacity would see an increase of over 20 days under a low-emissions scenario (Below 2°C), while under a high-emissions scenario (Above 4°C) half would see an increase of over 60 days by the end of the century. This is significantly higher than the world average where only 15-20% of wind power plants would be exposed to an increase of more than 20 days in a low-emissions scenario (Below 2°C) and more than 60 days in a high-emissions scenario (Above 4°C). The increasing exposure to hot weather can add stress to wind power generation, given that high temperatures can reduce the lifespan of battery cells and other electronic components while also impairing the performance of the lubrication oil in the turbine gearbox. Under extreme heat such as above 45°C, a standard wind turbine may shut down completely. 

Wind power plants in Morocco exposed to a hotter climate by climate scenario, 2021-2100



Historical observations show that Morocco has become progressively more arid. Over the period 1961-2017 cumulative rainfall decreased by 16%, most notably in spring (down 43%) and winter (down 26%). Although the northwest region of Morocco has received annual average precipitation of up to 1 200 mm (the highest), the southeast of the country receives less than 50 mm per year on average. As a result of decreasing precipitation in the southern part of Morocco, the Sahara Desert is advancing.

The decrease in mean annual precipitation is projected to continue in Morocco. The decline ranges from 10% to 20% over the period 2036-2065 compared with 1981-2018 in the country as a whole, noting that there would be some regional variability. Over the long term, projections show 30% less precipitation in the centre of the country, while in the Sahara region (southern Morocco) precipitation increases by 5%.

Decreasing precipitation is raising concerns about droughts, which have increased in frequency, magnitude and duration. Climate projections also show more frequent and severe droughts in Morocco, especially in the central and southern regions. Although the country north of the Atlas Mountains currently has a temperate Mediterranean climate, almost all of Morocco is set to become drier and its climate transform into an arid one by the end of the 21st century.

In the energy sector, less precipitation and more droughts are already affecting hydropower generation. The changes in climate were one of the main drivers of the decrease in hydropower output from 3 631 GWh to 1 290 GWh between 2010 and 2020. The hydropower capacity factor in Morocco could drop further if greenhouse emissions are not mitigated on time. The IEA’s climate impact assessment shows that 90% of Morocco’s existing hydropower plants will be exposed to a significantly drier climate and see an increase of at least 20 in the number of consecutive dry days6 in a high-emissions scenario (Above 4°C).7 This is significantly higher than the world average, where only 20% would see the same level of increase in the number of consecutive dry days. The projected increase in aridity under a high-emissions scenario would have negative impacts on the hydropower capacity factor, which could drop by over 30% between 2060 and 2099 compared with 2010-2019.

Should greenhouse gas emissions be mitigated on time (Below 2°C)8 most hydropower plants in Morocco would see a neutral or slightly drier climate by 2100. According to the IEA’s assessment, the decrease in the hydropower capacity factor could be limited to 10% between 2060 and 2099 compared with 2010-2019, if global warming is kept below 2°C.

Taking into account the projected decrease in precipitation, Morocco has expanded the capacity of its pumped storage hydropower plants, which tend to be less dependent on precipitation than other types of hydropower plant (e.g. impoundment, run-of-river). Since pumped storage hydropower can operate in a closed loop, which allows it to store and pump water between a lower reservoir and upper reservoir, the impacts of lower precipitation could be smaller than at other hydropower plants. The Office National de l’Electricité et de l’Eau Potable (ONEE) has launched projects for pumped storage hydropower in recent years, including the construction of Abdelmoumen pumped storage (350 MW) and the announcement of plans for El Menzel II (300 MW) and Ifasha (300 MW) pumped storage hydropower.

Hydropower plants in Morocco exposed to a drier climate by climate scenario, 2021-2100


Hydropower plants in Morocco exposed to a drier climate by climate scenario, 2021-2100


Change in hydropower capacity factors in Morocco by climate scenario, 2020-2099


Coal power plants, which currently account for around two-thirds of Morocco’s electricity generation, are also projected to face drier conditions in the coming decades. Nearly 70% of coal power plants in Morocco could be exposed to a significantly drier climate and see an increase of over 20 in the number of consecutive dry days in 2061-2100 if climate change is not mitigated (Above 4°C). This level of exposure is significantly higher than the world average, where less than 2% would become significantly drier or see an increase of over 20 in the number of consecutive dry days. The projected increase in aridity under a high-emissions scenario would add stress to coal power plants that rely on water for cooling, which account for over 80% of the total installed capacity of coal-fired power plants in Morocco.

Morocco’s efforts to replace coal power plants with natural gas combined-cycle power plants could contribute to power system resilience against water stress. Morocco plans to install an additional 2 400 MW of natural gas power plant capacity by 2030 and completely replace coal-fired plants by 2050. Given that natural gas power plants generally emit less greenhouse gas and require less cooling water per MWh than coal-fired power plants, switching could enhance climate resilience, while also supporting climate change mitigation. 

Coal power plants in Morocco exposed to a drier climate by climate scenario, 2021-2100


Coal power plants in Morocco exposed to a drier climate by climate scenario, 2021-2100


Decreasing precipitation could have a major impact on energy demand and the agricultural sector, which accounted for approximately 15% of Morocco’s GDP in 2019. To compensate for the reduction in rain-fed water sources and the decline in groundwater recharge, Morocco has built 12 large desalination plants across the country. In the latest update of its nationally determined contribution (NDC), Morocco plans to invest in seawater desalination to reach an output capacity of 500 million m3 per year. The increase in desalination plants could drive up the country's electricity demand, although many existing plants are coupled with solar power plants.

Despite the overall decrease in mean annual precipitation, Morocco is also experiencing more frequent heavy rainfall and floods. In 1980-2020 around 30 floods were recorded, and they are likely to become more intense and frequent with climate change. Heavy rainfall and floods can disrupt energy supply, damaging electricity grids and generation assets. For example, flash floods on 24 November 2014 resulted in power outages that left some 20 000 people without electricity.


Although Morocco is not under the threat of tropical cyclones, storms have been reported in Morocco. During the period 1980 to 2010, two storm-related events were registered.

Recently, the number of dust and sand storms has been increasing in North Africa. Given that the region is projected to be more exposed to droughts with climate change impacts, there could also be a rise in annual dust emissions and the frequency of dust and sand storms. Land degradation caused by human activity and natural causes also contributes to their increasing frequency.

Morocco’s efforts to diversify its electricity generation with a massive scale-up of solar power technologies, such as PV panels and concentrated solar power (CSP), could be negatively affected by the projected increase in dust and sand storms in the region. Coarse sand particles can damage CSP mirrors by scratching or breaking them, while small particles can deposit on solar mirrors to create a soiling layer, which decreases their generation efficiency. If they are not cleaned regularly, solar PV panels can lose up to 30% of their efficiency within six months, or up to 13-15% loss of electricity generation per day. Finding the most suitable sites for solar power plants and setting up plans for regular maintenance against the increase in dust and sand storms will help to minimise these negative impacts on electricity systems.

Sea level rise

Morocco is projected to experience a sea level rise of 0.4-0.7 m by 2100 depending on climate scenario. Given that the country’s urban coastal zones are home to 70.2% of the population and 90% of industrial activities, sea level rise may become a direct threat to the economy and infrastructure. It could cause permanent inundation of the lowest lying coastlines in Morocco, while increasing the risks of coastal erosion. Of the total length of Morocco’s east Mediterranean coastline, 22% would be at very high risk and 42% at high risk by 2030

The energy sector is central to Morocco’s climate change strategy, especially its mitigation efforts. Morocco’s updated NDC commits the country to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 18.3% by 2030 compared with the business-as-usual (BAU) scenario. With international support this could reach 45.5% by 2030 compared with the BAU scenario. To achieve these commitments, Morocco has detailed its efforts in a list of measures where the power generation sector would contribute the largest share of mitigation efforts (35.2%). To deliver the goals, the NDC sets energy saving targets of 20% by 2030 compared with the BAU scenario, and the expansion of renewable electricity generation from a share of 17.6% in 2020 to 52% by 2030, of which 20% is to be solar, 20% wind and 12% hydro. The increase in renewable energy is also expected to contribute to energy security, reducing Morocco’s dependence on imported fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas, which represented more than 80% of its electricity generation mix in 2020. Morocco is also accelerating the replacement of coal with gas in its electricity mix, installing an additional 2 400 MW of combined-cycle gas-fired capacity by 2030. The National Plan for the Development of the Use of Natural Gas, published in August 2021, foresees a vision for 2050 of completely replacing coal-fired plants, which accounted for two-thirds of electricity generation in 2020.

For successful implementation of climate change mitigation measures, adaptation and resilience in the energy sector also needs to be taken into account. Renewable energy technologies, which together represent one of the key pillars of Morocco’s mitigation strategy, are generally sensitive to climatic conditions and can be negatively affected by climate change. For instance, solar power plants are sensitive to heat, wildfire, floods and storms, while hydropower generation is largely affected by changes in precipitation patterns (e.g. more frequent floods and droughts). Therefore, measures to increase climate resilience will be essential to support the significant growth in renewables, which accounted for 17.6% of electricity supply altogether as of 2020, and the successful delivery of mitigation measures.

Acknowledging the importance of adaptation and climate resilience, Morocco has already developed a policy framework, notably the Moroccan Climate Change Policy published in 2014, the 2030 National Strategy for Sustainable Development launched in 2017, the National Climate Plan 2020-2030 launched in 2019 and the updated NDC submitted in 2021.

The Moroccan Climate Change Policy was designed as a dynamic, inclusive and adaptable tool for building policy towards a low-carbon climate-resilient future, contributing to promoting climate change adaptation in general, emphasising improving knowledge and observation to address climate risks and vulnerability, and committing to preventing and reducing climate risks. Its adaptation components focused on water, agriculture, fisheries, health, forest and land degradation, biodiversity, tourism and territories.

The 2030 National Strategy for Sustainable Development, issued in 2017, proposes as resilience-related objectives: the development of a national plan for the prevention of and response to climate risks; the reinforcement of the scrutiny of these issues; and the promotion of innovation technologies. The National Climate Plan 2020-2030, launched in 2019, includes “building resilience towards climate risks” as one of its five pillars,9 focusing on water constraints, agriculture, fisheries, health, biodiversity and transport infrastructure. In Morocco’s NDC, adaptation actions consist of five axes for climate change adaptation: consolidation of the governance of a strategic plan; development of climate knowledge and access to information; assessment, prevention and reduction of climate vulnerabilities and risks; reinforcement of the resilience of sensitive resources and ecosystems; and reinforcement of the resilience of the most vulnerable economic sectors (e.g. the agricultural sector). To achieve these goals, Morocco set sectoral objectives for meteorology, agriculture, water, fisheries and aquaculture, forest, sensitive environments (coastlines, mountains and oases), the built environment (housing, territorial development and urban planning) and health.

Although these policies have led to a notable improvement in adaptation in general, the energy sector has been less discussed in terms of climate change adaptation and resilience than other sectors. The main focus of climate policies for the energy sector has been on mitigation and energy security rather than adaptation and resilience. To fill this gap, establishing a sectoral plan and identifying actions for the energy sector would significantly enhance its adaptation and resilience. The sectoral plan and actions could include: conducting a systematic and comprehensive assessment of the existing and potential impacts of climate change on the energy sector (while taking into account the future energy mix); establishing specialised plans for high-risk areas based on their assessment (e.g. power plants in coastal areas, hydropower in dry areas); assessing how diversification of the energy mix can contribute to tackling climate change; accelerating the adoption of energy- and water-efficient technologies given the increasing water scarcity; and ensuring resilience against extreme heat (e.g. soaring cooling demand in peak hours, a decrease in generation efficiency, more cooling needs for power plants).

In addition to a sectoral adaptation plan for energy, the application of disaster risk management strategies can also support energy sector climate resilience, particularly in the face of extreme weather events. Since 2008 the government of Morocco has developed various options to manage the risks of natural disasters and run the Monitoring and Coordination Centre (CVC) for better co‑ordination among stakeholders in cases of disaster. The Fund for the Fight against the Effects of Natural Disasters (CAS-FLCN) was created for the prevention and repair of the effects induced by natural disasters in 2009 and it was transformed into a five-year Programme for Integrated Natural Disaster Risk Management and Resilience in 2016. USD 200 million was assigned to promote institutional reform, capacity building and implementation of risk reduction activities, and to improve financing and insurance in the face of natural disasters. As a long-term strategy, the country developed the National Strategy for Natural Disaster Risk Management 2020-2030 in 2020. The strategy suggests improving knowledge and risk assessment, promoting risk prevention and improving preparedness for early recovery and effective reconstruction at national and local levels.

Although these disaster risk management strategies improve overall disaster resilience, specific measures for the energy sector would add value, given that resilient energy systems can: support successful implementation of response measures (e.g. health services, water pumping, reconstruction); help the on-time delivery of resources for recovery; and enable the operation of measures for detection, observation, warning and communication. In this regard, the 2021-2026 Operational Plan for the National Strategy took a step forward, recommending a vulnerability assessment of public electricity networks and a public-private action plan to combat pluvial flooding with delegated authorities in the power sector. A further assessment of various types of climate hazard (e.g. coastal flooding, droughts, heatwaves and storms) would also enhance disaster risk management in the energy sector.

This work was supported by the Clean Energy Transitions Programme, the IEA’s flagship initiative to transform the world’s energy system to achieve a secure and sustainable future for all. In particular, this publication was produced with the financial assistance of the Government of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

  1. Based on the Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 4.5 scenario. RCPs are greenhouse gas concentration trajectories adopted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

  2. Based on the RCP 8.5 scenario.

  3. This study assessed the level of exposure to climate hazards of the existing installed capacity in Morocco, using the IPCC climate scenarios (SSP1-2.6, SSP2-4.5, SSP3-7.0 and SSP5-8.5) and its indicators. SSP = Shared Socioeconomic Pathway.

  4. SSP1-2.6.

  5. SSP5-8.5.

  6. Maximum number of consecutive dry days, defined as having precipitation of less than 1 mm.

  7. SSP5-8.5.

  8. SSP1-2.6.

  9. The five pillars are: establishing reinforced climate governance; building resilience towards climate risks; accelerating the transition towards a low-carbon economy; ensuring territorial development to integrate climate change dynamics; and reinforcing human, technological and financial capacity.