With targeted capacity of up to 550 MW, the Ouarzazate site will be the largest solar complex in the world.
The second power plant in the complex will be built during this phase of the project. It will be a 150 to 200 MW CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) parabolic trough power plant. CSP is a technology of particular interest to utilities as production is more predictable than for most renewable energy options and the associated storage is efficient and reliable.
The Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) is in charge of the implementation, in a public private partnership approach, together with private companies to be selected within a consortium that is able to deal with the design, equity financing, construction, operation and maintenance of the thermal solar power plant over a period of 25 years.The demand for electricity in Morocco has grown at an average rate of 7% per year since 2003, a trend fuelled by population growth, increasing electrification rates, increasing prosperity and the country’s economic development needs. The country is extremely dependent on energy imports and fossil fuels and intends to tackle these challenges by developing renewable energy resources, in particular solar and wind. In 2009, the Moroccan government adopted a new energy strategy to achieve the objectives of energy security and environmental sustainability and to set the economy on a path of green growth that generates employment. Part of the strategy is to increase the share of renewable energy in the national energy mix from around 30% in 2009 to 42% in 2020. Morocco’s 2009 Solar Plan calls for the development of 2 000 megawatts of solar energy by 2020, starting with the Ouarzazate solar power complex.
By increasing the level of renewable energy in the country’s energy mix and contributing to the creation of a new green industry, the project will contribute to Morocco’s objectives of developing a more secure energy supply, diversifying its sources of energy, cutting its CO2 emissions and increasing employment levels. It will also allow for more experience to be gained from the use of storage technology and dry cooling in CSP plants. Furthermore, it will create a strong precedent for the use of the public private partnership business model to develop CSP power plants in Morocco and elsewhere. Finally, the Solar Complex is the first reference project for the vision to produce solar power in the desert regions of MENA on a large scale.
The NIF funding will allow the application of a very promising climate-friendly technology (parabolic trough technology) that is not yet commercially viable. It will facilitate the further introduction of this promising CSP parabolic trough technology in Morocco and promote the diffusion of renewable energies in the MENA region and thus contribute to the protection of the climate. Moreover, this will encourage the creation of new jobs in the solar sector. The funding is needed to close the gap between the relatively high production costs of CSP plants and the relatively low tariffs in Morocco. The NIF grant softens the financing conditions of the project and thus reduces this gap and the resulting burden to be borne by the Moroccan government.