Construction on Morocco’s 160 MW concentrated solar power (CSP) plant in Ouarzazate began on Friday with a symbolic groundbreaking ceremony by King Mohammed VI.
Built by a consortium led by Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power, Ouarzazate 1 is set to go online in 2015. The German government has pledged €115 million in support for Morocco’s ambitious project.
A stalwart supporter of Morocco’s renewable energy and energy efficiency efforts for years, Germany has become Europe’s most significant partner in the building of the 160 MW Ouarzazate 1 facility.
Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development are both supporting Morocco in realizing the project, which aims to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the country, currently estimated at 230,000 tons a year.
The construction of the Ouarzazate plant is the first step in the country’s implementation of a solar power plan that will see 2,000 MW of power generation capacity by 2020.
Along with the expansion of wind energy generation, the country could already see half of its electricity supply from renewable energy sources by 2020.
The German environment ministry is providing €15 million through KfW Development Bank towards the project as part of the International Climate Initiative while the Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development is granting low-interest loans totaling €100 million.
As reported earlier, the first phase of the project has received a total of €345 million in backing from Europe, including €100 million from the European Investment Bank, €30 million from the European Union and €100 million from the French Development Agency (AFD).
Morocco is building the plant in several stages. The German government will continue to support the expansion of solar power in Morocco with a further €650 million in the coming years.
"The solar power plant will help reduce Morocco’s dependence on imported fossil fuels. Solar energy is a future market that is of great importance for countries like Morocco," the German government said in a statement, adding, "Germany is making a significant contribution so that these markets can develop, which not only generates employment but also investment opportunities for the private economy."
Germany’s support for energy initiatives in Morocco spans the development of regional master plans, the establishment of new institutions, laws and regulations for renewable energy and energy efficiency and includes loans for solar, wind and hydro power plants.