A similar, but much
smaller, solar plant built
recently in Saudi Arabia
 
Washington DC, United States — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 18 November 2011 – The World Bank has approved US$297 million in loans to Morocco to help finance the Ouarzazate concentrated solar power plant project, taking a historic step toward realising one of the first large-scale plants of this kind in North Africa to exploit the region’s vast solar energy resources.

With this approval from the Bank’s board of executive directors here, Morocco takes the lead with the first project in the low-carbon development plan under the ambitious Middle East and North Africa Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Scale-up Programme. A US$200 million loan will be provided by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the part of the Bank that lends to developing country governments, and another US$97 million loan will come from the Clean Technology Fund.

“The World Bank is proud to provide the financing needed to make this large-scale renewable energy investment possible,” said World Bank group president Robert B. Zoellick. “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,” he added.

The 500 megawatt (MW) Ouarzazate solar complex, as the first power site, will be among the largest CSP plants in the world and is an important step in Morocco’s national plan to deploy 2,000MW of solar power generation capacity by 2020.

The World Bank has supported Morocco’s national Solar Power Plan since it was launched in 2009 and is now making this significant loan to co-finance the development and construction of the Ouarzazate Project Phase 1 parabolic trough plant through a public-private partnership between the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) and a private partner. Ouarzazate Phase 1 will involve the first 160MW and will help Morocco avoid 240,000t of CO2 equivalent a year.

The Ouarzazate project will also contribute to Morocco’s objectives of energy security, job creation, and energy exports. As a regional frontrunner in clean energy, Morocco is rising to the challenge of its international commitments made in the last two United Nations’ climate summits and under the Union for the Mediterranean.