Morocco Moves Forward With 350 MW Solar Thermal Power Bids

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Morocco is charging towards a brighter energy future as it takes new steps to expand its solar power projects.

The Moroccan solar energy agency has completed the auction of phase II and III of the Ouarzazate concentrated solar power (CSP) project. These projects are in addition to the 160 MW CSP project already under construction. The total capacity of the three phases will be around 500 MW.

The first phase includes a solar thermal power plant based on parabolic trough reflectors. Phase II includes a 200 MW project using the same technology, while phase III will have a capacity of 150 MW and will use the power tower technology. A fourth phase is expected to have 50 MW capacity based on photovoltaic (PV) technology.

Three consortia had bid for the phase II project. These included consortia led by Abengoa, Sener Group, and International Power (GDF Suez). Four consortia had bid for phase III projects. These included Abengoa, Sener Group, EDF, and (International Power) GDF Suez.

Sener Group and ACWA Power of Saudi Arabia partnered in submitting their bids for the two projects. According to various reports, this consortium managed to place the lowest combined bid for the two projects. However, an Abengoa-led consortium placed the lowest bid for the phase III project.

Phase I project construction would potentially require investment worth $1.7 billion. The project has already secured debt funding from World Bank, African Development Bank, European Investment Bank, and German development bank KfW. The construction of phase I is expected to be completed by 2015 while all phases are expected to be completed by 2019.

Once completed, the project will provide 18% of Morocco’s annual electricity generation. The project is a part of Moroccan Solar Energy Program, which aims to install 2 GW of solar power capacity by 2020.

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Mridul Chadha

Mridul currently works as Head-News & Data at Climate Connect Limited, a market research and analytics firm in the renewable energy and carbon markets domain. He earned his Master’s in Technology degree from The Energy & Resources Institute in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Mridul has a keen interest in renewable energy sector in India and emerging carbon markets like China and Australia.

Mridul Chadha has 425 posts and counting. See all posts by Mridul Chadha

3 thoughts on “Morocco Moves Forward With 350 MW Solar Thermal Power Bids

  • You may wonder why Morocco, with immense areas of empty sunny desert, has chosen to put its large CSP investment in one vulnerable lump at Ouarzazate. One factor may be water. CSP doesn’t need much with recycling, but it does need some, and the town is an oasis using runoff from the Atlas. The other is these forbidding peaks themselves. There are only a very few passes, and transmission costs must be high.

    Arab politics, and the long tradition of heavy-handed state control of society and suspicion of civic initiative, don’t encourage distributed solar. Morocco is better than most, but there is still no takeoff. Watch Egypt.

  • Phase I is $1.7 Billion for 160 MW CSP. Lets call that $10/watt is that the going rate for CSP now? Or maybe there is a typo, since if it is already under construction then they would be past “construction would potentially require”.

    • That is rather expensive, and the math looks right (if article didn’t have a mistake). But I wonder if there are fixed costs for the first phase that would not be needed for later phases? Still, that sounds rather expensive even with storage and flexibility; if such price difference persists, for a country with such vast area you should just fully overbuild PV (and wind) capacity.
      And even with costs going down, factor of 5x – 10x is rather hard to overcome, considering that there are no silver bullets for CSP price reduction.

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