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500-MW Solar Plant to Be Built in Morocco

A 500-MW solar complex at Ouarzazate, in the south-central region of Morocco, should be finished by 2015. The first phase will be a 160-MW parabolic trough facility. Photovoltaic modules and CSP towers will follow, and those projects are under development. When construction begins, hundreds of jobs are expected to be created.

The 500-MW complex is part of Morocco’s overall plan to develop 2,000 MW by 2020. What is driving the potential investment of nine billion dollars is an increasing demand for power. By 2020, that demand may double, and by 2030 it may quadruple. Currently Morocco relies too much upon the importation of fossil fuels for its power, which has left it with a large trade gap.

If the new solar plants are combined with the construction of wind power facilities as well, the amount of fossil fuel oil saved annually could be 2.5 million tons.

The main administrator of the push for solar development is the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN). This organization is a publicly funded company, established in 2010. The World Bank has reportedly contributed $297 million for the 500-MW portion of the project.

When completed, the Ouarzazate solar facility is expected to eliminate about 240,000 tons of CO2 production each year from fossil fuel-based energy. Morocco has excellent solar potential, with 3000 h/year of sunshine, and the radiance of around 55 KWh/ft²/day.

It also has high potential for wind power development.

Several consortia will compete to build the first phase — Abeinsa ICI, Abengoa Solar, Mitsui is one; Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. Enel, ACS SCE is the second; and International Company for Water and Power (ACWA), Aries IS and TSK EE is the third.

Image Credit: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen, Wiki Commons

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