Morocco took advantage of Spain’s cheapest electricity in 2022, coinciding with a historic shift in the Spanish government regarding its stance on the Sahara, which meant relations with Algeria were completely severed.

The African country has saved a total of 575 million euros by buying Spanish electricity, according to sources in the energy sector. This amount does not evaporate, as these costs must be paid by the national system.

According to European rules, exchanges between member countries generate a so-called congestion rent, which is divided equally between the systems of both countries, managed by electrical network in Spain and manager in Morocco. Spanish-Moroccan connection opened in 1997 and has a capacity of about 1400 MWh with infrastructure 29 kilometers under the waters surrounding the Strait of Gibraltar. Electricity pumping will increase in a few years, as an increase of another 700 MW is calculated for 2026.

And why such a sum? Why Morocco? multiply by four imports during the past year from Spain. According to Redeia (formerly Red Eléctrica), the national electricity balance ended up in the negative, with around 1.5 million MWh in 2022.

In particular, 1.8 million MW were sent from the Iberian system, while the input of electricity into the Spanish infrastructure remained at 422,000 MW. This means that 81% of electricity flow in 2022 was exported and only 19% was imported.

For example, in May, one of the highest electricity output peaks in Morocco was reached. According to the official data compiled by Red Eléctrica (REE), you need to go back to 2020 to find the monthly peak of energy generation to an African country, when Spain exported over 100,000 MWh, running into a negative balance (the difference between imports and exports). , almost 38,000 MWh.

To get an idea of ​​the electrical turn in relations between Spain and Morocco, it is enough to look back a few years, for example, in 2021 our system received more power from the South African country than was sent to Rabat. In particular, the electricity balance ended with a positive figure of 178,743 MW. In percentage terms, exports amounted to 42.5%, and imports 57.5%.

If you go back to 2019, Spain increased its purchases of electricity from Morocco, just when there was a price crisis and the African megawatt-hour was much cheaper due to the use of coal for power generation.

Because the market works this way, Morocco has taken advantage of the relationship with Spain and has benefited from the Iberia exemption. The mechanism that Moncloa launched in June last year to reduce the price of electricity, in which the price of gas was capped, has led to a reduction in the cost of a megawatt for Spaniards, and therefore for other countries that have interconnect. with the Spanish system, including Morocco.

“The Iberian exclusion allowed for a reduction in electricity prices in Spain, but at the same time had a number of other consequences, such as an increase in gas consumption and, at the same time, an increase in the export of relatively cheap energy. neighboring countries,” the International Energy Agency recently endorsed in an electricity market report.

France also won

Spain has also become a net exporter of electricity to France. Traditionally, it was the opposite, and our country demanded festive energy. But everything changed after the introduction of the gas cap. Aelec explained that strong demand in France with the interconnection running at full capacity would increase demand to 25 terawatt hours (TWh), which is 10% of demand in Spain.

The neighboring country, thanks to its nuclear power system, has been our reference supplier because when Spain lacks electricity within its borders due to our reliance on renewables, it turns to France for supplies. Some things changed completely after capping the gas. Spain also subsidized French consumers by just over 800 million euros, according to industry calculations.

gas isolation

Morocco, which took advantage of its new relationship with Spain, was also forced to restructure its energy map after Algeria turned off the gas valve two years ago.

In October 2021, the President of Algeria, Abdelmaid Tebun, confirmed the termination of the contract with Morocco, which allowed the transportation of gas to Spain via the Maghreb-Europe (GME) gas pipeline. The infrastructure, which is 25 years old, connected the three countries and had a length of 1,400 kilometers, through which about 6 billion cubic meters of gas was pumped to Spain.

After the historic turnaround in Spain, Algeria raised its voice and threatened Moncloa to cut off the gas supply to our system if it can be proven that said raw material was re-sent to Morocco.

Any supply of Algerian natural gas to Spain that is not specified in the contracts will be considered a breach of contract and therefore may result in the termination of the contract binding Sonatrach to Spanish customers. .,” Algeria recalled.