WSRW condemns General Electric for powering occupation

A subsidiary of the US company has signed a contract with the Moroccan king's energy firm for a large wind farm in Western Sahara, consistently referring to the location as part of Morocco.

05 October 2021

Western Sahara Resource Watch is on 6 October 2021 launching a report on Morocco's renewable energy projects in occupied Western Sahara. The report will address General Electric's operations.

Photo (APSO): The Aftissat windfarm in occupied Western Sahara already contains 200 MW worth of wind turbines. With the General Electric engagement, the capacity of this single farm will double before 2023. Picture taken recently. 

GE Renewable Energy, a subsidiary of the US company General Electric, announced in a press release on 30 September 2021 that it had received a large contract for the installation of a 200 MW wind park in Western Sahara. 

In its release, the company consistently refers to the location of the park as “in Morocco”. This is not correct. The UN, international courts and the international community qualify Western Sahara as separate and distinct from Morocco. The larger part of the territory has been under Moroccan occupation since 1975. 

The company’s involvement relates to an addition to the already existing Aftissat windpark. The new deal, called “Aftissat 2”, will consist of 40 turbines, each of 5 MW. 

The announcement came only one day after the EU Court of Justice clarified that the EU’s bilateral agreements with Morocco cannot include Western Sahara. 

“This is an important turning point for the Kingdom, which is on the way to become one of the most committed emerging countries to the development of wind and solar energy”, the company wrote in the press release. 

Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) finds the agreement and narrative alarming. 

“We condemn General Electric's lack of support for basic principles of international law and human rights. Your announcement directly clarifies that the project is for the development of Morocco. Your Moroccan partner, owned by the King of Morocco, has no legal right to issue a contract for such a project to your company. These lands belong to the Saharawi people”, WSRW wrote in a letter to the company today.

WSRW calls on GE Renewable Energy to immediately cancel the signed contract, and urges international owners of General Electric Co to engage with the company to make this happen.  

GE Renewable Energy is a company created in 2015, combining the wind power assets that General Electric had purchased from the French company Alstom on one side, with those previously owned by US company on the other. As part of Alstom’s conditions of the deal, the headquarters of GE Renewable Energy was moved from New York to Paris. 

Alstom has been observed on several occasions in the occupied territory. In 2013, Alstom equipment was part of the supplies to the Foum El Oued wind park. In 2014, WSRW wrote about a Saharawi family who lost their lands and homes due to an Alstom power line.

The GE Renewable Energy press release can also be downloaded in PDF.

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