Doubts cast on location of Xlinks energy projects

Contrary to previous promises by UK company Xlinks, Moroccan regional president now says the renewable energy plants that are to supply the UK will be located in occupied Western Sahara.

31 January 2023

The graphic above is found on website of

Will a sub-sea energy cable into the UK affect occupied Western Sahara or not? 

Not at all, according to a letter from the UK company Xlinks to WSRW in June 2021. The company underlined that while they could not yet disclose the exact location, “the terrestrial portion within the project is confined to the Tan Tan region”, and that none of the areas under consideration were “considered to be contested territory”. 

But statements by the president of the administrative region ‘Guelmim-Oued Noun’, Mbarka Bouaida, have made everything less clear. 

In an interview with Al-Jazeera in October 2022, Ms Bouaida stated that the plants for the Xlinks project could be constructed in one of the zones identified for such projects in Mahbes, Lemsid or Chbika. While the Moroccan government considers all these locations to be in the Moroccan administrative region of Guelmim-Oued Noun, the region has been designed in disrespect of the non-self-governing status of Western Sahara: it overlaps the border of the occupied territory - and both Mahbes and Lemsid are located in Western Sahara, not in Morocco.

Lemsid is a coastal town, situated halfway in between Western Sahara's capital El Aaiun and the town of Boujdour. Mahbes is in the northeast of occupied Western Sahara, and has been a target for Polisario missile attacks, ever since the armed conflict was resumed between Morocco and the Western Sahara liberation movement Polisario in November 2020.

Bouaida told Al Jazeera that the four wind and solar plants that will make up the 10.5GW project will be built on a surface of 150,000 hectares, and that Mahbes, Lemsid and Chbika had been identified as possible locations.

Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) has today asked UK energy firm Xlinks to clarify - again - whether the solar and wind farms it plans to construct in Morocco, will effectively be located in Morocco or in occupied Western Sahara.

The Xlinks project is one of many elaborated in the 2021 WSRW report “Greenwashing Occupation”. 


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