Map of Morocco at http://www.sas.upenn.edu/African_Studies/CIA_Maps/Morocco_19858.gif. from Univ. of Pennsylvania African Studies Center.
Is there a need?
Population: 31,689,265 (July 2003 est.). Population growth rate 1.64% (2003 est.). This ranks 88 out of 235 countries, and is similar to countries such as Columbia, Bolivia, and Algeria.
"In 2003, Morocco's real GDP increased an estimated 5.2%. Morocco's economy grew especially rapidly in 2003 because of ample rainfall. The disproportionate importance of the agricultural sector, which employs 43% of the population, makes Morocco's economy vulnerable to external shocks, like extremely good (or bad) weather. The expected return of normal weather patterns has led to forecasted GDP growth of 3.5% in 2004." Source: http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/morocco.html
"According to January 2004 estimates, Morocco has proven oil reserves of 1.6 million barrels and gas reserves of 43 billion cubic feet (Bcf). Morocco may have additional hydrocarbon reserves, as many of the country's sedimentary basins -- especially those offshore on the Atlantic continental shelf or in deep waters off the shelf -- have not been explored." Source: http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/morocco.html
"The vast majority of Morocco's electricity is generated in thermal power plants that burn oil and coal. All of the oil is imported, and most of the coal comes from South Africa (the United States and Columbia are also key suppliers). Morocco produces a small and declining amount of coal from a mine at Jerada." Source: http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/morocco.html
Water is a particular scarce resource. It is classified as a 'water-stressed' country. Nuclear power has been sought for a significant time in order to provide the energy for a desalinization plant.
Summary: The following indicates need exists: a) ongoing population and economic growth, b) only modest oil/gas reserves and a dependence on exports for energy minerals, and c) a need for water.
Basic requirements for nuclear power:
1) Is there a source of Uranium fuel?
2) Appropriate sites for nuclear power plant.
3) Appropriate sites for waste disposal?
4) Technologic know-how to support nuclear power?
Summary: While more specific investigation would be needed for selection of specific sites, Morocco appears to have the necessary basic requirements. However, technologic know how is in its infancy and outside help would likely be necessary to meet this requirement.
Basic risk factors associated with nuclear power.
Flooding in 2002 wiped out largest oil refinery. Satellite view of these floods.
Political stability and weapons proliferation?
Morocco has signed nuclear non-proliferation and environmental treaties.
Accidents: this is difficult to assess, but is related to the level of technologic expertise. Due to the associated need of external support, operation costs would be initially higher.
Fuzzy categories of assessed risk: very low = 0, low = 1, moderate = 2, high = 3.
Summary conclusion: While the basic requirements for nuclear power exist, significant risk exists from both natural hazards and political related factors. The seismic risk may be reduced by locating more to the south, by careful site selection, and by engineering for seismic durability. The politically related risk may diminish with time, if ongoing democratization processes are sucessful. Initially, substantial external support will be necessary, and will add to operating costs.