Morocco launches $3 billion solar power plant

05 Feb 2016, 12:00 am
Chibuike Oguh


The three-plant Noor-Ouarzazate CSP complex will have total installed capacity of 500MW.

Rows of solar panel at the Ain Beni Mathar Integrated Thermo Solar Combined Cycle Power Plant in the Jerada province, Oriental region, Morocco. Photo: Dana Smillie / World Bank

The Kingdom of Morocco has launched the first phase of a $3 billion concentrated solar power (CSP) plant, reputed to be the largest in the world.

The three-plant Noor-Ouarzazate CSP complex, with installed capacity of 500MW, was launched on Thursday by King Mohammed of Morocco, according to a press statement published by the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The CSP plant will supply power to 1.1 million Moroccans by 2018 and reduce Morocco’s energy dependence by about 2.5 million tonnes of oil as well as lower carbon emissions by 760,000 tonnes per year.

A consortium of multilateral institutions – including the AfDB, the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), the World Bank, and European financing institutions – provided the $3 billion funding for the construction of the Noor CSP project.

“With this bold step toward a clean energy future, Morocco is pioneering a greener development and developing a cutting edge solar technology,” said Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Country Director for Northwest Africa (The Maghreb). “The returns on this investment will be significant for the country and its people, by enhancing energy security, creating a cleaner environment, and encouraging new industries and job creation.”

Concentrated solar power is a pioneering technology, which the International Energy Agency estimates could supply up to 11 percent of the world’s electricity generation in 2050. With abundant solar resources, the Middle East and North Africa region has the potential to meet all its electricity needs as well as the EU’s demand for energy.

“Noor solar complex is part of the innovative operations of AfDB in the energy sector in terms of financing and technology,” said Yacine Fal, AfDB’s Resident Representative in Morocco. “It stands to serve as an example for Africa and the world about how to create effective pathways to greener and more inclusive economies through renewable energy.”

In 2011, Morocco commissioned the Ain Beni Mathar Integrated Thermo Solar Combined Cycle Power Plant, an integrated solar combined cycle power station in Ain Bni Mathar, located in the Jerada province, Oriental region, Morocco. The plant has a total capacity of 472MW. At a total cost of $554 million, the project was funded by the AfBD, the Official Credit Institute of Spain (ICO) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).