Late last year, the world gathered at the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) in Bonn, Germany, which brought together countries from around the world to discuss climate change. And although countries from the MENA region were present, they still have a long way to go to begin taking effective action against climate change. Morocco, however, stepped up its ante by building a completely solar-powered green mosque in a small village.
The mosque was built in 2016 in the small village of Tadmamet north of Marrakech, which is situated in the Atlas Mountains about 45 kilometers (25 miles) away from the nearest town. Tadmamet’s mosque serves the village’s 400 residents as both a place of prayer and a communal space.
Tadmamet’s green mosque is the first of its kind in Morocco. The mosque has a number of photovoltaic solar cells on its rooftop, which generate energy to power the mosque. In fact, the solar cells generate so much electricity, they also power the Imam’s house next door to the mosque as well.
Residents of Tadmamet adhere to a more rural lifestyle, relying primarily on farming potatoes and barley for their main source of income. Adding to the fact that electricity in the village and network connectivity is sparse, building a green mosque in the village has made a significant difference for residents.
The village’s green mosque was built as part of a governmental campaign in 2014 to cut back on the amount of electricity that public buildings consume in the country, including the country’s 51,000 mosques. The mosque was built in partnership with the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ). Jan-Christoph Kuntze, who works for GIZ, said to BBC that Tadmamet’s mosque was the first positive energy mosque in all of Morocco.
Although the mosque has given Tadmamet a lot to be proud of as a self-sustaining space, the mosque does not only serve as a place of worship for the village’s residents.
Because Tadmamet has always had sparse access to electricity, residents had grown accustomed to living on candlelight once the sun set. After the construction of the green mosque, the space has also become a place for children to study. And with the increased generation of electricity, the mosque also offers residents hot water to shower, since the majority of households did not have consistent access to it beforehand.
While solar energy has become increasingly affordable, especially with the concept spreading around Morocco, photovoltaic cells remain relatively expensive for residents of Tadmamet. The village also plans to use the extra electricity produced at the mosque to pump water from the local well for irrigation, which is done by hand at the moment.
These efforts to produce greener energy in Morocco are part of the country’s general energy scheme, which aims to produce 34 percent less emissions than it currently does by 2030. The scheme also aims to generate 52 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by the same year.
In 2017, around 100 mosques were ‘greenified’ – particularly two of the largest mosques in the city of Marrakech.