Mosques across Morocco will be fitted with solar panels in a government bid to boost clean energy awareness.
Jan-Christophe Kuntze, the project’s chief, said that the objective was to start an industry for sustainable companies to train and employ Moroccans in the clean energy sector. The aim is to create six hundred “green mosques” in Morocco by March 2019. If all goes to plan, 100 mosques will be furbished with LED lighting, solar thermal water heaters and photovoltaic systems by the end of this year.
The project is likely to kickstart in cities with big population centers – such as Rabat, Fez, Marrakech and Casablanca – before moving onto smaller towns and villages.
Morocco’s ministry of Islamic affairs is endorsing the scheme, which seems appropriate as mosques are “important centers of social life in Morocco,” as stated by Kuntze. He further adds that “[mosques] are a place where people exchange views about all kinds of issues including, hopefully, why renewables and energy efficiency might be a good idea.”
With 15,000 dotted around the country, the potential for both national and international growth is great. The green mosque project plans to carry out the task using technologies that can be adapted to public buildings and residential homes. If this scheme does venture beyond mosques and become more widespread, then Morocco will be one of the first to completely rely on clean and renewable energy – an example for the rest of the world to follow.
The ministry is paying up to 70% of the initial investment costs in partnership with the German government. This partnership is likely to raise a few questions as Germany is providing technological support rather than financial opportunities for their own industries (so what’s in it for them?).
Eager to quash any doubts or misreports, Kuntze made a point of explaining, “We are not representing any German business interests at all. The good thing about this project is that the Moroccan government came up with the idea themselves. It is something new and really innovative and it has not been tried anywhere else before, to my knowledge.”
Beyond the building of good diplomatic relations, this green project has raised Morocco’s profile and broken new ground for gender equality in the country. According to Kuntze, many female clerics have been involved in the project and around a quarter of the participants in recent seminars have been women.
The country’s environment minister, Hakima el-Haité, told the Guardian that religion could be used to remind that “we are miniscule as humans before the importance of the earth.” This was shortly before Islamic leaders issued call for rapid phase out of fossil fuels at a conference in Istanbul.
Contractors will be paid with the energy savings generated by the eco-plan as mosques’ electricity usage are expected to cut by 40% – a win win situation.
If this project is successful it could be massive on the environmental scene, since it has the potential to reform energy extraction and usage globally. This innovative scheme could easily be adopted by many other Muslim countries in Africa and the Middle-East where there are plenty of mosques (and sun).
This article is written by Teuta Hoxha.