CleanTechnica is the #1 cleantech news & analysis site in the world. Subscribe today!The future is now.

Green Economy Morocco-solar-targets-38-California-33

Published on May 20th, 2015 | by Mridul Chadha


EU Funds Morocco’s Largest Solar Power Project

May 20th, 2015 by  

Morocco’s ambitious Noor-Quarzazate project has received financial backing from the European Union.

The European Union (EU) has granted a $47.8 million loan to the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) for the 150 MW Noor III concentrated solar power project. According to media reports, the agreement was signed by EU Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action Miguel, Arias Cañete, and the President of the MASEN, Mustapha Bakkoury.

In January this year, MASEN awarded the contract to Sener Group and ACWA Power of Saudi Arabia as both of them managed to place the lowest combined bid for the Noor II and Noor III CSP plants.

The Noor-Quarzazate project is divided into several smaller projects. Phase 1 includes Noor I which comprises of a 160 MW parabolic trough-power project and is in the advanced stages of construction. Phase 2 includes two projects, called Noor II and Noor III, with capacities of 200 MW and 150 MW respectively. Noor II will be based on parabolic technology whereas Noor III will be developed using power tower technology. Phase 3 of Noor-Quarzazate project (Noor IV) will include development of a 50 MW solar photovoltaic power plant.

This is not the first time the Noor-Ouarzazate project has received funding from international lenders. In December last year the African Development Bank (AfDB) granted a $250 million loan to support construction and operation of both Noor II and Noor III. The Noor I project has also received funding from various institutions, including the World Bank, African Development Bank, European Investment Bank, as well as German development bank KfW.

The Noor I project is expected to be commissioned this year whereas all other projects are expected to be completed by 2019.

Once completed, the Noor-Ouarzazate project will contribute 18% to Morocco’s annual electricity generation. The project is a part of Morocco’s Solar Energy Program which aims to install 2 GW of solar power capacity by 2020. The program includes implementation of 5 solar power projects spread over an area of 10,000 hectares.

Complete our 2017 CleanTechnica Reader Survey — have your opinions, preferences, and deepest wishes heard.

Check out our 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

Tags: , , , , ,

About the Author

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.

  • heinbloed

    The planned power exports (!) to Spain will be aided by the thermal storage capacities.

    At the moment Morocco imports power from Spain at peak times and Spain then from France or Portugal.
    This business the Moroccan power industry want to do them self.

    With a far more ambitious RE program than the Spanish industry Morocco could soon be a net exporter for electric power.

    The cable is in place.

  • Shane 2

    Can parabolic trough thermal compete with PV?

    • Larmion

      On a cost per kWh basis? No. Not even close.

      But that’s not a fair comparison. CSP comes with integrated storage (store your molten salt/hot oil in a big thermos for use during the night and voila), whereas PV requires expensive batteries.

      Given that Morocco’s generation fleet is relatively inflexible (lots of coal, very little hydropower and limited natural gas) and its interconnection with neighbors is somewhat limited, CSP’s flexibility could make financial sense. I’m sure Morocco did the math.

      There are also some other, more marginal advantages (lower land use due to high efficiency, potential for process heat generation alongside electricity,…).

      • Shane 2

        There was no mention of thermal storage in the article. If there is no thermal storage, PV would make more sense.

        • Larmion

          Noor phase I has a limited molten salt storage capacity, enough for three hours of peak output. Noor II and III include enough storage for 7 and 8 hours respectively.

          With that level of storage, and taking into account lower nighttime demand, Noor II and III can be run as baseload power plants if needed.

          I don’t think anyone still builds CSP without storage. That just doesn’t make financial sense.

          • newnodm

            Don’t most of the U.S. CSP lack storage?

          • Larmion

            Many of the existing ones, yes (those were built when PV was still very expensive). Most that were recently built and (afaik) all under construction or in planning have storage.

        • newnodm

          I would like to see a cost comparison of CSP with molten salt with utility scale PV with storage.
          I’m also curious of how CSP works integrated with natural gas.

          • globi

            Apparently the CSP generation costs are around $0.15 /kWh: link.

            PV can be generated for less than $0.07 /kWh. link.
            And a battery which costs $200 /kWh and is cycled daily for 10 years has storage costs of $0.055 /kWh.
            So if 2/3 is sold directly and 1/3 is stored, you end up with less than $0.10 /kWh.

            There’s a reason why this CSP-plant turned into a PV-power plant. link.

          • Larmion

            Is it fair to compare a CSP project in a country with limited prior experience to PV projects in a country with a more established industry, economies of scale and the world’s most advanced financial markets?

            The only meaningful comparison is CSP vs PV+storage in the same country.

          • globi

            PV is a commodity and is much simpler than CSP.

          • Aku Ankka

            I think you are mixing situation in western countries (where there is hardly need for batteries) with that of developing countries like Morocco where need will be imminent, if major chunk of total capacity (like here) would come from solar power. So case can be made much more easily for Morocco and South-Africa because relative penetration of solar power will become much higher much sooner. Further, western countries tend to have more advanced grid stability handling (modern peaker plants etc).

            Finally, while batteries are developing, utility-scale batteries do not seem as cost-effective at this point, for 50MW size projects.

            I am sure that Morocco et al are hoping to further reduce costs, even expect it. If the prices can not be lowered well below 10c CSP may well die out.

          • globi

            I think you didn’t read the facts I stated below.

          • newnodm

            Assuming you can do CSP. Is it practical out of a low latitude desert?

          • Larmion

            Yes and no. You do indeed need pretty much uninterrupted periods of sunshine (so no overcast periods), but the intensity of the sunshine needn’t be desert-strength if you properly dimension the mirror array.

            Deserts are ideal, but any dry place works. Think areas in the rain-shadow of a mountain range.

          • Aku Ankka

            I think comparisons would be interesting.
            One big challenge there is the cost variability. Cost of CSP storage is in flux (still not as mature technology, cost-wise), but even more importantly, cost of batteries is quickly falling. So such a comparison should itemize the components.

            One other challenge to CSP is that as far as I know, it will be impractical for small installations: smallest systems being built seem to be 50MW. I think part of the reason is the turbine system that requires certain minimum capacity.
            So comparisons are difficult to do and interpret.

            I think NG integration is indeed a valuable alternative option and has been included in a few CSP plants.

          • Larmion

            The smallest CSP plant commercially available is the AORA Tulip, at 100kW electric (and 170kW of usable waste heat). It uses a Brayton cycle and comes with an optional biomass/NG boiler that allows spinning the turbine 24/7.

          • Aku Ankka

            Interesting. Thanks!

        • Hare

          Maybe a Ambri’s Liquid Metal Grid-Scale Battery would be the solution!

      • globi

        The reason why CSP plants have storage has more to do with being able to operate a smaller (less costly) steam turbine at a more constant rate, than with storage.
        Besides that this CSP plant provides only 3% to Morocco’s installed power capacity: As all other countries, Morocco has a varying demand and needs more power during day time and surplus renewable power can be used for hot water purposes as well. In addition, it also interconnected.
        So the alleged need for storage is a moot point.

        It would certainly have been more sensible to invest in PV and wind power instead, as Morocco has also excellent wind resources:

        • Larmion

          – Sure, power demand is variable. That doesn’t alter the fact that the ability to do load following can be useful, especially if reserve margins are tight (as they tend to be in developing economies)

          – Morocco is interconnected, but capacity is highly limited relative to both Morocco’s demand and Algeria’s and Spain’s generation capacity.

          – I don’t really see how investing in CSP prevents investment in wind. Morocco has been installing its fair share of onshore wind turbines in recent years.

          No country ‘needs’ storage. Both power trading and having a significant reserve capacity are viable alternatives. The problem is that Morocco currently lacks all three.

          In a country like Germany, the need for storage is almost zero due to trading and fossil power plants running below capacity. In Morocco, all three options require a lot of investment. That might (or might not) be enough to shift the numbers in favor of CSP.

          • globi

            Unfortunately you can spend your $ only once.
            So, if you spend your $ on CSP instead of Wind and PV, you get less clean kWh for that same $.

            Unfortunately, Morocco has been importing more power than this 150 MW CSP plant can provide.

            By the way, the interconnection between Spain and Morocco is 800 MW, which is substantial compared to the 150 MW of the CSP plant.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I have a feeling that thermal solar with storage is about to take a big hit as we see cheaper battery storage coming on line.

          • newnodm

            If Germany doesn’t need storage, why are they expanding coal production? I suppose Germany could pay France and have no power production. That would make a zero emission, no nuke paradise!

          • Bob_Wallace

            Germany is not expanding coal production. Germany is shrinking coal capacity.

            Several years back, before wind and solar became so cheap, Germany launched a program to replace their aging out inefficient coal plants with modern more efficient plants. It takes many years to build a coal plant and those replacement plants are now coming on line.

            The idea was to replace 18.5 GW of old plants with 11.3 GW of supercritical plants. It’s turned out that not all those 11.3 GW will be needed. 3 GW or more of the new capacity may never be used.

            BTW, nuclear has turned out to be quite expensive in France. They are in the process of replacing a considerable amount of their nuclear with renewables.

          • newnodm

            I haven’t followed Germany closely. I do remember a report last year of an ancient town they were considering destroying to expand coal production.
            I certainly realize they don’t want to burn coal.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Germany is still using coal and Germany’s coal industry still has some political power. But overall coal is on the way out in Germany.

            Coal use saw a small uptick following Fukushima and the decision to close some reactors sooner than scheduled but after three years that is over and fossil fuel consumption is once again dropping in Germany.

          • Larmion

            France is not in the process of replacing nuclear. The only nuclear reactor under consideration for closure is Fessenheim, and the ruling socialist party isn’t too enthousiastic about that (and the opposition UMP even less so).

            It is true, however, that almost all new capacity built to deal with the retirement of fossil fuel stations and to meet increased demand is renewable.

            If the Royal law makes it through the Senate, we might see a wave of retirements long term, but not in the coming decade. If it fails, it might be even longer.

          • Bob_Wallace

            So France has decided to spent the money to refurbish its aging out reactors? I missed that news.

          • Larmion

            France has decided nothing (yet), and EDF has said it intends to refurbish all reactors bar Fessenheim (which is due to be replaced by the new Flamanville EPR) unless the Loi Royal makes it unfeasible.

            And the Loi Royal only calls for a very measured, gradual phaseout of the oldest reactors and is in the process of being weakened further.

            France is very much following the Swiss example of working its reactors as long as it is safe to do so.

            See this interview, for example:

          • heinbloed

            French EdF planned to replace Fessenheim’s capacity with Flamanville.
            Flamanville mighty never go online.
            The RPV is scrap. That is official since the end of last year:


            The builder Areva is done, finished.

            The weldings are scrap.
            It was kept as a secret by EdF (!) but has leaked just a couple of weeks ago:


            There are no other reactors in the building phase or planned for.
            Well, that fusion-miracle machine ….. for a few minutes it might produce power, after 2050, if the plans work out ….

            Well, the French coal power plants are scheduled to close down completly in 2016 or 2017 at the latest.

          • Ulenspiegel


            obviously you use “high quality” sources like FT or WSJ for “checking” your facts on German energy transition. However, by doing so there is a good chance that you look like an idiot. 🙂

            BTW: Germany is net electricity exporter to France. 🙂

Back to Top ↑