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

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[youtube] 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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