21 June 2013 – Morocco has committed to large scale solar energy, having begun with construction of the US$817 million 160 MW Ouarzazate concentrated solar power (CSP) project in 2013. Now the German Aerospace Centre (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft und Raumfahrt) (DLR) is developing plans for a solar power research and test centre in Morocco on behalf of the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen). The long-term objective of this new centre is the development of a competitive solar power industry that can replace coal as the backbone of the Moroccan electrical system. The project is part of the Moroccan Solar Plan, which envisages having solar power stations capable of generating 2,000 MW by 2020.
Ouarzazate is a potential location for this solar research and test centre. The DLR Institute of Solar Research is developing a concept for a test centre in which pilot and demonstration scale plants will be tested and evaluated, and also in which research and development work can be conducted towards efficient, cost-effective solar power stations to supply electrical power as well as desalination plants in Morocco.
DLR researchers on this project are also evaluating the potential added value of CSP and photovoltaic (PV) technology to Moroccan industry. Mustapha Bakkoury, the president of Masen, is placing emphasis on the build-up of research expertise in Morocco. Masen was established in March 2010 with public funding, for the implementation of the integrated Moroccan solar plan and the promotion of solar resources.