Friday, 8 November 2013

Dam Electric and the Road to Nowhere

We drove north of town but whereas we have always turned left towards the picturesque (Saints and Sinners 24.11.10) this time we decided to explore and turn right. The signs were to the Sidi Abdellah Dam. The road split again. we went through the town with the grammar school and past the next village. The road had clearly  been improved presumably for the dam to be constructed but suddenly it just stopped with a barrier of earth. We walked over and it seemed that not just the metal road had stopped but that it was a complete dead end with no track  leading anywhere.

The left turn before the town promised access to the dam and an Auberge. We had
fantasies of lunch overlooking the lake as at Bin El ouidane (30.07.12). Unfortunately the dam is not yet finished. We got to the workers accomodation where the road ran into No Entry signs and a fork down to the construction site. We could see no way through to the Auberge which should have been a further 7km up the valley.
At this time of year of course the valley is completely dry and it seemed quite bizarre to be building a dam with not a trickle of water in sight... The purpose is of course to build a resevoir for irrigation for the orange plantations in the Sousse Valley. Often these relatively small scale dams (the Kariba or Aswan they are not) have a small associated electric plant. We could not see whether this did or didn't.  According to a national paper I read in 2011 the demand for electricity in Morocco is set to double by 2020 and then double again by 2030 so every little helps. I had supposed that the country would be well placed for renewables between the sun and the wind, but although you do see a few wind turbines they are much fewer than in Britain. Whereas in Turkey or in China houses  in rural communities each have their solar powered water heater on the roof these are almost completely absent in Morocco where bottled gas is the preferred form of heating and at 42Dh (£3.50) for 14kg is heavily subsidised. Petrol at £1 a liter is also subsidised but distance here are great and communities would be very isolated if it were more expensive.
The are very ambitious plans for industrial scale solar power by a German company who plan to build a huge solar farm across the hamada on the saharan edge and export the electricity to Europe across the Strait of Gibralter. The farm is to cross the whole of the Mahgreb although they have said they will start with Morocco as being the nearest. I am completely sceptical about the scheme which involves working co-operatively with Algeria with whom Morocco has a closed  border and with Libya which is tottering on being a failed state. Also no-one has explained to me how they intend to keep the panels free of the accreation of compacted sahara sand that happens even here. I expect that like the Unified Credit programme and the NHS integrated computer records it is one of those projects where someone can make a lot of money whether it actually happens or not.

1 comment:

  1. It's so interesting to read this, I went to the same place earlier this year and the dam is full and lush now!