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Morocco has announced plans for a new campus providing knowledge-based services to strengthen research and training in clean technology.

The 'knowledge campus' is part of a US$3.2 billion five-year renewable energy investment plan, prepared by the Moroccan National Electricity Office and scheduled to run between 2009 and 2014.

Mouloud Ait Haddou, Morocco's general secretary of the Ministry of Energy, Mines, Water and Environment, said his country aims to increase renewable energy sources in the national energy balance from four per cent now to ten per cent by 2012, and contribute to reducing climate change worldwide.

He was speaking at the opening ceremony of a meeting on renewable energy prospects for the Arab Maghreb countries, held in Rabat, Morocco, from 20–22 October.

The campus is part of a US$219 million clean energy industrial park being built in the eastern city of Oujda to support private sector investment as well as renewable energy companies. Building is underway, and the campus is expected to open by 2010.

"The park will build the capacity needed for long-term research programmes, and the knowledge campus will help develop the scientific workforce through training programmes, conferences and seminars, new Master's courses in renewable energies and through research projects," Driss Zejli, head of the Renewable Energy Economy and Technologies Unit at Morocco's National Centre for Scientific and Technological Research, told SciDev.Net.

Zejli pointed out that the geographic position of the knowledge campus — on the border with Algeria — creates more opportunities for knowledge sharing, technology transfer and science cooperation between Morocco and Europe and between Morocco and other Arabic and African countries.

Morocco's five-year plan aims to develop local wind energy technologies, establish wind farms, solar energy test centres and demonstration projects, and increase investments in renewable energy research and development.

"This plan will make use of the intensive solar radiation and tremendous wind potential in nearly all Morocco's coastal regions — specifically in the southern region where the trade winds create one of the largest and steadiest wind systems on earth," Zejli concluded.

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