The Desertec Industrial Initiative’s (DII’s) first major project in North Africa could merge with the Moroccan government’s solar build-out programme.

DII – a consortium of mainly European companies with ambitions to tap into the huge solar potential of North Africa – plans to build its first reference project in Morocco.

Morocco government has a target of 2GW of solar capacity by 2020 and last December narrowed down to four the list of bidders competing to build Morocco’s first 125 MW concentrating solar power (CSP) plant.

Until now the two strands of renewables development have been separated explicitly, with DII stressing that the Moroccan government’s solar pipeline is unrelated to the consortium’s own plans in the country.

But a DII spokesman now admits the possibility that the two may merge, following the signing of a formal cooperation agreement between DII and the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen) covering the development of export markets in Europe for Moroccan renewable power via subsea cables.

The tender offer for the first Desertec pilot Project will be open in Morocco in 2012. The project will produce 500 MW with an investment of 2 billion Euros. Solar energy production is planned by 2016 will be 400 MW thermal and 100 MW photovoltaic.

 The tender offer for the first Desertec pilot Project, that will be operating in Morocco in 2012, will be launched, on May 19, in Casablanca, by Klaus Schmidtke, the Head of Communication at Desertec Industrial Initiative (DII). The cost of this investment amounts to 2 billion Euros, and the planned solar energy production for the project is 500 MW (400 MW thermal and 100 MW photovoltaic).

The tender will be handled by Masen (Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy) for Desertec, announced the spokesperson of the DII at a press briefing in the headquarters of the German Chamber of Commerce and industry in Morocco.

He added that the site has not yet been identified but work is ongoing on that front.  He explained that 80% of production is destined for Europe, Spain as a first step, while the rest will cover local consumption of 400,000 households.

The quarterly shareholders bird meeting of DII was held in Marrakech. The concept presented by the DESERTEC Foundation is mainly based on the studies of the German Aerospace Center (DLR). This project aims to cover 17% of European electricity needs by 2050, from solar energy produced in the deserts of North Africa and Near East.

The cost of this investment was estimated at 400 billion Euros. This figure is the sum total of investments for building needed thermal power plants and transmission cables of high voltage. As for DII, its goal is to create conditions for a rapid implementation of the Desertec concept in the MENA and European ​​countries. DII has now 55 partners from 14 countries, including 20 shareholders and 35 associated partners. Morocco is represented by Nareva, a 100% subsidiary of SNI, a royal holding.