Tenders signal Morocco's initiative on renewable energy

Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week:  Morocco is cementing its regional leadership position in renewable energy with a series of new tenders.

Morocco is cementing its regional leadership position in renewable energy with a series of new tenders.

The country is preparing a tender for the second phase of the Quarzazate solar plant after awarding the contract for the 160 megawatt first phase late last year.

The new tender will call for a further 300MW worth of solar power capacity. Initial bids will be solicited next month, and the tender will be floated soon after.

The contract will be awarded late this year or early next year, said Fouad Douiri, Morocco's minister of lands, mines and energy.

Further tenders will be launched in March, when four wind farms with a total capacity of 850MW will be put to the market.

Morocco's activity dwarfs anything under way elsewhere in the Middle East. Overall, the government wants a total of 6,000MW of renewable energy to flow into the grid by 2020.

The minister expects that Morocco will, over time, be integrated into a market for renewable energy stretching throughout the Mediterranean rim and Europe.

"Opening the market is very important to developing renewables. It means that we will export, and import," said Mr Douiri.

An international market will stimulate competition and keep prices down, while countries benefit from interconnection by shifting excess capacity garnered during peak daylight hours.

A renewables market spanning the Mediterranean was first envisioned by Desertec, an initiative by European industry and governments that called for vast imports of solar power from North Africa.

The concept has since shifted to take into account domestic needs in the Maghreb, and Mr Douiri said he was optimistic that it would become a reality.

"In the midterm, I'm sure we'll find agreement with Spain, Italy, France, Germany and other companies, and that our energy operators will be in a cooperation-competition situation," he said.

Morocco and other countries in North Africa are turning to renewable energy in the absence of huge resources of hydrocarbons.