The two plants (Noor II and Noor III), to produce 350 megawatts, are the second phase of the 500 MW Ouarzazate solar energy plan designed to produce 2 gigawatts of solar power by 2020, or about 38 pc of Morocco’s current generation capacity.
The consortium made of Acwa and Sener has defeated five international bidders to win the Moroccan deal to develop the 200-megawatt Noor II and 150-megawatt Noor III.
The Saudi Acwa company is already building a 160 MW plant (Noor I) for about $1 billion. The plants are scheduled to start producing power in 2017. Morocco, which is facing a rapidly growing electricity demand and heavily relies on oil imports, has worked out an ambitious energy strategy that includes renewable energy.
This strategy will help the North African Kingdom to reduce its imports of fossil fuel, protect the environment through the limitation of greenhouse gases, and in a later stage export its surplus renewable energy to Europe.
To carry out its power plants projects, Morocco has obtained loans of $519 million from the World Bank, 654 million euros from German state-owned bank KFW and the rest from the African Development Bank (AfDB), the European Commission and European Investment Bank.
These loans and sizable investments are set to help boost Morocco’s power capacity in the long term and ease its reliance on expensive imports, which accounted for around 17 pc of domestic consumption in 2014.
With a number of large-scale industrial projects in the pipeline, demand is expected to accelerate even faster in the coming years, making new investments in generation crucial.
To reduce its dependency on imports and lighten the government’s fiscal burden, Morocco has begun to increase its share of renewables in its energy mix, with solar and wind both receiving significant attention.
Morocco aims to have 2000 MW of installed capacity for each of solar and wind power by 2020, which will mean sourcing 42pc of its power supply from renewables by the end of the decade.