9 October 2012 – Morocco’s Solar Energy Agency (Mansen) director, Mustafa Bakkoury, says that the country has awarded a US$1 billion solar project contract to a consortium led by the Saudi International Company for Water and Power (ACWA). The consortium, which will set up a 160 MW concentrated solar power (CSP) plant, also includes Spanish companies Aries IS and TSK EE, in addition to ACWA, though the latter holds a majority 95% stake.
The consortium will undertake the plant’s design, finance, construction, operation and maintenance work.Construction on the plant, which will be located near the southern city of Ouarzazate, will begin before the end of 2012, and will take two years.
The government of Morocco will cover any gap between the cost of producing solar electricity and the price the state power utility will pay to acquire the electricity from Masen.
The bids were evaluated on the basis of price per kilowatt/hour proposed, with the ACWA group offering US18c/kWh, some 27% less than the nearest competing bidder. Covering 2,500 hectares, the project is the first of two phases that when completed should raise the Ouarzazate plant’s generation capacity to 500 MW.
The project will be financed with loans from the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, Germany’s KfW bank and the French Development Agency. The German government and the European Commission will also provide grants of 15 million and 30 million euros respectively.
The Ouarzazate solar plant is the first of five that Morocco plans to build by 2020 in its southern desert regions. The country plans to add 2,000 MW of solar generation capacity at an estimated cost of US$9 billion.