Morocco’s ambitious Noor-Quarzazate Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) project has received financial backing from the European Union.

The European Union (EU) has granted a $47.8 million loan to the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) for the 150 MW Noor III concentrated solar power project. The agreement was signed by EU Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action Miguel, Arias Cañete, and the President of the MASEN, Mustapha Bakkoury.

In January this year, MASEN awarded the contract to Sener Group and ACWA Power of Saudi Arabia as both of them managed to place the lowest combined bid for the Noor II and Noor III CSP plants.

The Noor-Quarzazate project is divided into several smaller projects. Phase 1 includes Noor I which comprises of a 160 MW parabolic trough-power project and is in the advanced stages of construction. Phase 2 includes two projects, called Noor II and Noor III, with capacities of 200 MW and 150 MW respectively. Noor II will be based on parabolic technology whereas Noor III will be developed using power tower technology. Phase 3 of Noor-Quarzazate project (Noor IV) will include development of a 50 MW solar photovoltaic power plant.

This is not the first time the Noor-Ouarzazate project has received funding from international lenders. In December last year the African Development Bank (AfDB) granted a $250 million loan to support construction and operation of both Noor II and Noor III. The Noor I project has also received funding from various institutions, including the World Bank, African Development Bank, European Investment Bank, as well as German development bank KfW.

The Noor I project is expected to be commissioned this year whereas all other projects are expected to be completed by 2019.

Once completed, the Noor-Ouarzazate project will contribute 18% to Morocco’s annual electricity generation. The project is a part of Morocco’s Solar Energy Program which aims to install 2 GW of solar power capacity by 2020. The program includes implementation of 5 solar power projects spread over an area of 10,000 hectares.