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Safi power station, Morocco


The Safi power station project includes a proposed coal-fired thermal plant, which would be located just outside of the city of Safi, situated between Agadir and Casablanca alongside the Atlantic coast.

It is a project carried out by Safi Energy Company S.A. (SAFIEC), which is owned by a consortium of GDF Suez, Mitsui & Co and Nareva Holding that won management of the project in international open tendering process. According to the state press agency, "The financing secured by Safi Energy includes $900 million from the Bank of Japan, $500 million from Moroccan banks Attijariwafa Bank and BMCE Bank and $485 million from international banks from France and Britain" [1].

According to Reuters, "The plant, to be built in the coastal city of Safi, would be the second-largest coal-fired power station in Morocco and would satisfy around 25 percent of the country's power demand." [1].

Safi Energy awarded a construction contract, worth $1.77 billion, to South Korea's Daewoo Engineering in 2013 and signed a 30-year power purchase agreement with state power utility ONEE.

When concerns about environmental and health impacts related to the project were first raised, the companies insisted that the plant will use “state-of-the-art ultra-supercritical technology” that will be provided by Daewoo Engineering. It is the first coal-fired project in Africa to use such technology, which claims to optimize environmental performance, provide 10% higher efficiency compared to conventional plants and says it will be able to reduce CO2 emissions and lower fuel costs. The plant is believed to increase Morocco's coal imports by 3.5 million tonnes per year.

Long before the Office National de l'Éléctricité et de l'Eau Potable (ONEE) and Safi Energy Company S.A. announced the signing of the project finance agreements for the construction in September 2014, protests had emerged in Safi. In March 2014, hundreds of people gathered to stage a protest in the city to oppose the construction of the thermal power station. They were claiming that Safi was already suffering from air pollution. Environmentalists did not seem convinced by the companies' claims that the the plant would be using “clean coal” technology. A representative of a local environmental organization holding a campaign against the thermal power station said that local protesters would call for a solar energy plant to be built instead of the thermal plant. The organization stated that residents still remembered a trauma they experienced in September 2011 when major sulphur dioxide leaks from the local phosphate refinery plant occurred.

Since the protest in March 2014, the local organization which translates to “Against the thermal power plant project– Safi” has continued to uphold their demands to stop the construction of the plant.

The Safi coal-fired thermal plant is supposed to start operating in 2018.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Safi power station, Morocco
State or province:Doukkala-Abda region
Location of conflict:Safi (called Asfi in Berber)
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Coal extraction and processing
Thermal power plants
Specific commodities:Electricity

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The Safi coal-fired thermal powerplant would have a capacity of around 1,320 MW.

The plant is believed to increase Morocco's coal imports by 3.5 million tonnes per year.

Project area:N/A
Level of Investment for the conflictive projectEstimated cost: 2,700,000,000 USD
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:Up to 200,000 affected by air pollution of the city of Safi
Start of the conflict:01/03/2014
Company names or state enterprises:Safi Energy Company S.A. from Morocco
Nareva Holding from Morocco
GDF Suez (GDF Suez) from France
Mitsui & Co Ltd from Japan
Daewoo International from Republic of Korea
Relevant government actors:Office National de l'Éléctricité et de l'Eau Potable (ONEE)
International and Finance InstitutionsBank of Japan from Japan
BMCE Bank from Morocco
Attijariwafa Bank from Morocco
Attijariwafa Bank from Morocco
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:ضد مشروع المحطة الحرارية- آسفي
Contre Centrale Thermique (Unofficial translation: Against the thermal power plant project– Safi):

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution
Health ImpactsVisible: Other environmental related diseases
Other Health impactsRespiratory problems
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood


Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Proposal and development of alternatives:A representative of a local environmental organization holding a campaign against the thermal power station said that local protesters would call for a solar energy plant to be built instead of the thermal plant.[2]
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Despite opposition from local residents, the Safi coal-fired thermal powerplant is now under construction.

Sources & Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Safi Energy secures $2.6 billion financing to build Moroccan power plant, by Aziz El Yaakoubi and Pravin Char, Reuters, 18 September 2014,

[2] Moroccans protest against new 'polluting' power plant, by salaheddinabir, France International News 24/7, The Observers, 3 April 2014,

Safi independent power project (2x693 MW) in Morocco reaches Financial Close and will start construction, Press Release, GDF Suez, 18 September 2014,

Safi: Les habitants manifestent contre le projet de centrale thermique, by Ristel Tchounand, Yabiladi, 3 April 2014,

Safi thermal power plant project, Morocco, by Sheila Barradas, Creamer Media's Engineering News, 24 October 2014,

U.S. Department of the Interior (2010), 2008 Minerals Yearbook, Morocco and Western Sahara, The Mineral Industries of Morocco and Western Sahara, by Harold R. Newman, U.S. Geological Survey, September 2010,

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Video of March 2014 protests in Safi:

Meta information

Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1917



Protesters in SAFI


Campaigners against air pollution