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AfDB helps fund $1.44bn Moroccan solar project

Last $336m jigsaw piece falls into place in Ouarzazate solar finance

The Ouarzazate solar power station will be eight times as large as the Gemasolar concentrated solar plant in Spain.
The Ouarzazate solar power station will be eight times as large as the Gemasolar concentrated solar plant in Spain.

The African Development bank has approved a loan if $336m to the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) to help finance the Ouarzazate solar power station projects which will have a solar generation capacity of 500MW with all phases complete.

The power station will utilize concentrated solar power (CSP) technology, arraying parabolic trough mirrors around a central tower filled with fluid material, to generate 160MW in the first phase. The project will become one of the largest solar power projects in the world at full expansion.

“The Ouarzazate first phase is a key milestone for the success of the Moroccan solar program. While answering both energy and environmental concerns, It will pave the way for the implementation of the regional initiatives sharing the same vision,” said MASEN president Mustapha Bakkoury.

Ouarzazate is the first stage in Morocco’s $9bn national Solar Power Plan, launched under the aegis of Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) in 2009, with the ambition to deploy 2000MW of solar power generation capacity by 2020.

“The support of international financial institutions like the World Bank through development financing and dedicated climate change financing is essential to help bring the overall scheme to economic viability,” added Bakkoury.

The World Bank approved a loan of $297m to the project back in November. The AfDB contribution brings the total of international lenders up to seven, and the combined value of funding committed to the project up to $1.44bn.

“Ouarzazate demonstrates Morocco’s commitment to low-carbon growth and could demonstrate the enormous potential of solar power in the Middle East and North Africa. During a time of transformation in North Africa, this solar project will advance the potential of the technology for energy integration in the Mediterranean,” said World Bank president Robert Zoellick.

The Morocco plant is one of several large scale solar power projects in various stages of planning or development across the MENA region.

Phase one of the project will avoid 240,000 tonnes worth of CO2 emissions per year, equivalent to the exhaust fumes of 8,000 vehicles.

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Construction Week - Issue 747
Aug 03, 2019