Clean Power

Published on November 19th, 2011 | by Andrew

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World Bank Group Co-Finances Morocco’s Ouarzazate 500 MW Solar Thermal Power Project

November 19th, 2011 by  

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjjYmAELLq8&version=3&hl=en_US] The World Bank approved $297 million in loans to Morocco to support construction and operation of Morocco’s 500-megawatt (MW) Ouarzazate Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant, one of several large scale solar power projects in various stages of planning or development across the solar energy rich Middle East-North Africa region.

Upon completion, the Ouarzazate parabolic trough CSP plant would be one of the largest CSP plants in the world. A group of seven international lenders has committed $1.435 billion dollars to build and develop the project. Ouarzazate is seen as a key milestone for Morocco’s national Solar Power Plan, which was launched in 2009 with the goal of deploying 2000 MW of solar power generation capacity by 2020.

The World Bank loans co-finance Phase 1 of the Ouarzazate CSP project as part of a public-private partnership (PPP) between the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) and an unnamed private partner.

Phase 1 entails construction of the first 160 MW of CSP capacity, which will result in avoiding 240,000 tons of CO2-equivalent emissions per year. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), which lends directly to governments, is providing a $200 million loan, and its Clean Technology Fund is providing a $97 million loan.

“The Ouarzazate first phase is a key milestone for the success of the Moroccan solar program. While answering both energy and environmental concerns, it provides a strong opportunity for green growth, green job creation, and increased regional market integration,” Mustapha Bakkoury, MASEN’s president, said in a media release.

“It will pave the way for the positive implementation of the regional initiatives sharing the same vision (Mediterranean Solar Plan, Desertec Industry Initiative, Medgrid, World Bank Arab World Initiative). The support of international financial institutions, like the World Bank, through development financing but also climate change dedicated financing, is essential to help bring the overall scheme to economic viability,” he added.

Joining the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the Agence Française de Développement, European Union Neighborhood Investment Facility, and Germany’s Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KfW) are working with MASEN and a competitively selected private partner to carry out the project.

MASEN and the World Bank put out an Invitation for Prequalification and General Procurement Notice in August 2010, beginning the search for an operational partner to design, finance, construct, operate and maintain one or more of the solar thermal power plants that make up the Ouarzazate CSP Program.

Commenting on the project, World Bank Group president Robert B. Zoellick said,

“Ouarzazate demonstrates Morocco’s commitment to low-carbon growth and could demonstrate the enormous potential of solar power in the Middle East and North Africa. During a time of transformation in North Africa, this solar project could advance the potential of the technology, create many new jobs across the region, assist the European Union to meet its low-carbon energy targets, and deepen economic and energy integration in the Mediterranean. That’s a multiple winner.”





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I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.



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  • Anonymous

    As long as they don’t turn Northern Africa into another Iraq/Afghanistan…

    • Anonymous

      Creating jobs and improving electricity supplies in North Africa are the sorts of things that keep people from extremist positions. People with a future tend to not get involved in extremist movements. Some of the world’s worst problems are born from desperation.

      The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have nothing to do with each other, except for the time frame in which they were started. One is commonly agreed to be justified. The other, illegal.

      I suppose they do have in common the fact that they were horribly managed by the administration that started them….

  • ow lafaye

    I understand that CSP plants could be installed at the cost of a similiar capacity, coal powered plant…and construction completed in 1/3 of the time.

    Once installed, this is essentially FREE power…Is Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wrong? or is it our government, controlled by oil and coal interests that is wrong?

    • Anonymous

      There’s no doubt that the fossil fuel industry wields a lot of power in Washington. The Koch brothers finance the Tea Party.

      It’s not clear what the future of CSP plants will be. The price of solar panels is dropping so rapidly that some CSP projects have been turned into PV projects.

      We don’t need storage in large amounts yet. This means that the storage part of CSP isn’t bringing large value to the market right now. The big issue will be whether CSP with storage will turn out to be cheaper than PV/wind and storage. Since solar and wind would share the same storage systems thermal storage might not be the cheap answer.

      It looks like we have two promising low-cost storage solutions ahead.

      First is using EV batteries for storage. Most people will drive fewer miles than their batteries will hold. That extra capacity can be rented to grid managers. The new Toshiba SCiB batteries are good for 4,000 or more full discharge/charge cycles. For the Honda Fit EV that would mean a >400,000 mile battery life. Plenty to rent out and make some money for the car owner.

      Second is a new sodium-ion battery going into production. At least 5,000 cycles and possibly more than 20,000. As cheap or cheaper than lead acid batteries.

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