Morocco recently awarded a $1 billion contract to the Saudi-led Company for Water and Power (ACWA) to build a 160 MW concentrated solar power plant in the country’s south.
This solar power plant is part of Morocco’s plan of cutting down dependence on imported fossil fuels and become a key exporter of clean, renewable energy in Europe.
Mustafa Bakkoury, head of the state’s Solar Energy Agency (Masen), made the announcement at a press conference. Two other firms—Spain-based Aries IS and TSK EE— are working with ACWA on the design, financing, construction, operation and maintenance of the solar power plant in the Moroccan town of Ouarzazate.
A flat plate collector installation. Photo Credit: Viessman
The solar plant will be the first of five, which is part of a $9 billion project set to produce 2,000 MW of electricity by 2020. That’s 38 percent of Morocco’s energy needs, but most of the power generated will be exported to Europe via Spain, where it has a power market trading license allowing the country to sell electricity.
According to Bakkoury, ACWA submitted the best technical and financial offer priced at $0.19 for the kilowatt per hour produced by the proposed plant, compared to $0.24 offered by two other parties in the final bidding process.
Construction is set to start before the end of 2012, and is expected to be completed by 2014, with funding coming in part from the World Bank and the European Investment Bank.
Combined with another multi-billion dollar wind energy project, the solar plan should curtail Morocco’s annual imports of fossil fuels equal to 2.5 million tons of oil and displace the emission of 9 million tons of carbon dioxide.