In 2020 there was much talk of low-cost green hydrogen being readily imported from Morocco. Mooted in the country’s favor were its copious supply of solar energy, its connectivity to Europe via Gibraltar as well as its relative political stability. As of summer 2021 that has not been entirely the case. The sun is still shining but diplomatic relations have become frosty.
The German and Moroccan governments have recently been at loggerheads through a dispute over the sovereignty of Western Sahara. While the Moroccan monarchy lays claim to the desert territory, the German government insists that the United Nations must first clarify the issue before any energy plants can be installed there.
Germany’s former development minister Gerd Müller had previously signed an agreement with the Moroccan ambassador Zohour Alaoui in June 2020 which envisaged a solar hydrogen industry being established in the northwestern African state. The original plan was for hydrogen to be produced in industrial quantities using the region’s solar resources and German electrolyzers. The hydrogen could then be exported – in one form or another – to Germany.
According to the German government’s national hydrogen strategy, EUR 2 billion in funding is set aside for this type of overseas project. Detractors continue to be critical of oil-exporting countries’ dependency on hydrogen-exporting nations as a means of finding their salvation. There have also been repeated warnings against cooperating with regions that are politically unstable.
It remains to be seen whether diplomatic relations will settle down again and how soon that could potentially happen.