In North Africa, the first phase of the Moroccan Solar Energy Programme (NOOR), was successfully connected to the grid on Wednesday, following a delay late last year.

The Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN), concentrated solar power project, located in the Ouarzazate solar complex, has the capacity to generate 160MW of clean power.

The Noor project, which was developed by Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power and Spanish firms Sener SA and Acciona SA, is estimated to have a total capacity of 2GW by 2020 once all four units have reached completion.

According to Acwa Power, the first phase has the capacity to store 3 hours of thermal energy storage, which is developed on a Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) basis.

[quote]Noor project financial support

The $895 million project was financed through various financial entities including the World Bank and the Clean Technology Fund, which have both provided $167 million, and the African Development Bank (AfDB) which has contributed $187 million.

According to Climate Action, the European Investment Bank, the German Development Bank- KfW, and the French Development Agency, have each injected $111 million towards the project.

In addition, the European Union and Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, have contributed $33 million and $17 million respectively.

Project benefits

With over 583,000 residents, the Ouarzazate region has a 23% poverty rate. This project aims to improve the socio economic state of the country, including the following objectives:

  • Reduce CO2 emissions by around 522,000 tonnes a year
  • Provide a reliable electricity supply to businesses
  • Promote a new industrial sector producing solar equipment
  • Facilitate job creation

Diversifying energy mix

In a 2014 statement, the AfDB said that in the last decade, Morocco’s energy consumption has increased by 7.2% and is predicted to ‘quadruple’ by 2030.

The Bank added that the country has placed its energy supply as a top priority for its 2010 to 2030 energy strategy. It aims to “diversify sources of production and generate value from the potential of renewable energy sources, to increase its share of electricity production to 42% by 2020″.