Masdar wins tender to build 800MW solar project in Morocco

Country targets 42 per cent of renewables in its national energy mix by 2020 and 52 per cent by 2030

FILE PHOTO: The sun illuminates the Toubkal region near Imlil October 31, 2009. Toubkal peak, the highest point in North Africa at 4,167m (13,671 feet), is visited by thousands of mountaineers throughout the year. Picture taken October 31, 2009. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante/File Photo
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An international consortium including Abu Dhabi's clean energy company Masdar won a tender to construct an 800-megawatt solar power plant in Morocco.

The Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (MASEN) awarded the tender to France's EDF Renewables, UAE's Masdar and Casablanca-based Green of Africa for the design, financing, construction, operation and maintenance of the first phase in the Noor Midelt project, Masdar said in a statement on Thursday.

"We expect this project to further raise the profile of renewables as a provider of reliable and cost-effect clean power in the Middle East and North Africa region," Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, chief executive of Masdar, said.

The 7.57 billion Moroccan dirham (Dh2.85bn) project is the first phase in a bigger solar power facility located in the country's Atlas Mountains, as the country targets 42 per cent of renewable energy in its national energy mix by 2020 and 52 per cent by 2030 - up from 35 per cent presently. Morocco, which imports more than 90 per cent of its energy needs, was one of the early adopters of renewable energy in the Middle East and North Africa.

Construction of phase one in the Noor Midelt plant, located 20 kilometers north of the town of Midelt in central Morocco, is expected to start in the end of 2019, according to the statement. Delivery of the first electricity to the grid is planned from 2022.

The project, dubbed Noor Midelt 1, will be a hybrid system of concentrated solar power (CSP) and photovoltaic (PV) technologies.

The project is funded by European Investment Bank, the French Development Agency, the European Commission, the World Bank, the African Development Fund and the Clean Technology Fund, according to Masen.

The new plant will be bigger than the already operating 580 MW Noor Ouarzazate CSP plant in southeastern Morocco.

Morocco is aiming to attract around $30 billion (Dh110bn) in investments to its energy sector by 2030 and is looking for investors from China, South Korea, Japan, Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Morocco, UAE, Saudi Arabia and India.

Noor Midelt is the third project that EDF Renewables and Masdar will be working on together following the Shua’a Energy 2 project in Dubai and the Dumat Al Jandal wind farm in Saudi Arabia.

In Morocco, Masdar announced last year it equipped 20,000 homes with solar panels and household appliances. The Morocco Solar Home Systems (SHS) project, led by the Office National de l'Electricité et de l'Eau Potable (ONEE), extended renewable energy to more than 1,000 villages.