Green Mosques and the transition to clean energy

To combat climate change, Morocco’s Government is advocating greater energy efficiency and the use of renewable energies. The country’s mosques and their Islamic clerics are helping to make people recognise the benefits of saving energy.

There are around 51,000 mosques in Morocco and the country’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs foots the electricity bills of some 15,000 of them – costs it aims to substantially reduce while raising citizens’ awareness of the benefits of renewable energies and energy efficiency. By 2030, Morocco plans to source 52 per cent of its electricity from renewable energies. With the country’s mosques and their imams acting as key ambassadors for the scheduled transition to clean energy, Morocco’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs has joined forces with the Energy Ministry and two other state-owned partners to launch a scheme targeting the nationwide energy-efficient modification of the country’s mosques. This move is to create a new market for energy services and more jobs in the fields of energy efficiency and renewable energies, including corresponding basic and further training for professionals.

Experts and multipliers receive training to promote the transition to clean energy.

On behalf of Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is supporting this Moroccan initiative with strategic advisory and training services. A key component of this project, which is being implemented as part of the Special Initiative on Stabilisation and Development of North Africa and the Middle East, focuses on enabling the private sector to deliver solutions for energy-efficiency and renewable energies itself in future. Given the lack of trained professionals to date, the project has, for example, targeted the unemployed in Marrakesh in a bid to train them to develop and market energy projects for public and private customers. In the meantime, 15 of them are now working as freelancers. Project activities have already resulted in some 48 new jobs.

To sensitise the population to this topic, imams and female clerics – mourchidates – are undergoing training in energy efficiency. The rationale behind this decision is that religious clerics have a high social standing in Morocco. In the interim, some 150 imams and mourchidates have already adopted arguments in favour of the transition to clean energy. By the end of 2016, more than 300 religious clerics are to have distributed their new knowledge in their communities, for example via their sermons.

Energy-efficient technologies for mosques

At the same time, and by way of an initial measure, more than 100 mosques are to be fitted with energy-efficient technologies. For example, energy-saving lighting systems, solar water-heating plants and photovoltaic systems will be installed at these ‘Green Mosques’. Modernisation work in 40 mosques has already been completed by Moroccan companies. The project has devised an interesting financing system for this purpose: the companies foot the bill for the energy modifications themselves. Their earnings then depend on the volume of energy saved as a result of the technologies they install – which means the more efficient the buildings are, the more money they earn.

The energy entrepreneur Yassine Alj is among those who have benefitted from this experience. ‘We have been able to improve our work in the field of energy efficiency in public buildings and so become more internationally competitive, too.’ For the Moroccan companies, working on the project is thus an investment in the future – particularly as, looking ahead, there are plans to optimise energy use in other buildings in Morocco or to construct new ones.