Speaking to AFP on the sidelines of a conference in Marrakesh, Deputy Energy Minister Mohammed Zniber said that his country is “very confident” of finding the investment necessary to build massive solar plants in its southern desert regions.
“Our target is that in 2020, 42 percent of our power supply will come from renewable energy, including 14 percent from solar,” he said.
“At the moment we have only one solar installation, in the east of Morocco, at Ain Beni Mathar, with an installed capacity of 20 megawatts.” However, the country is planning to build five new solar plants over the coming eight years which will furnish the country with a combined production capacity of 2,000 megawatts at an estimated cost of “less than 9 billion dollars.”
“We are sure that a lot of investors will be interested and that we can find the money for these projects. We are very confident about that,” Zniber added.
Morocco doesn’t have access to the massive reserves of hydrocarbon its North African neighbours do, and as a result the country has been spending billions of dollars each year on importing fuel and relying on Spain to provide its surplus electricity.
As a result of their lack of old-school power generation capabilities, the country has positioned itself as a world-class producer of renewable energy, focusing primarily on two readily abundant resources — wind and sun.
The country’s pilot project is situated at Ain Beni Mathar, a hybrid plant combining solar and gas. However, the five new plants planned by the country will focus solely on the sun, with the first to be located near the desert frontier town of Ouarzazate and, upon completion, be capable of producing 500 megawatts.
“This is the biggest project of its kind in the world,” said Obaid Amrane, from the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN), explaining that it was being built in two phases and, when completed in 2015, would cover 3,000 hectares.
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