On Friday 10 May, King Mohammed VI presided over the launch of the construction works of the first floor of the integrated solar power energy complex of Ouarzazate in the rural village of  Ghessate (Ouarzazate province), calling it «Noor». The ceremony took place with the presence of the head of the government, Abdelila Benkirane, and other members of the regional and state administration, the royal cabinet, international institutions involved in financing the project, and diplomats accredited to the Kingdom. The first of its kind in the world in terms of production capacity (160MW), the plant will be located on an area of ​​3,000 hectares and will cost more than 630 million Euros. It is expected to be operational within 28 months. This first phase of the Ouarzazate solar project will be carried out by a consortium of Spanish companies, made up of the companies Acciona, Sener and TSK. This consortium reached an agreement with the Saudi group, Acwa Power, winner of the public tender, to build and manage the plant.

Total investment in the future plant will be 7 billion dirhams, more than 630 million Euros. According to Mustafa Bukari, head of the Moroccan Agency for

Solar Energy (Masen) in his speech to the king during the event, the Moroccan authorities expect the plant to help promote the development of local industry, the acquisition of a high degree of expertise in the field of solar energy, the comprehensive development of the region in the implantation and the production of clean and renewable energy.

Bakuri reiterated the plan that the Noor solar complex will reach a total production capacity of 500MW. He noted that the project benefits from the support of funding from international investors, operators and solar energy developers, and actors from civil society.

In response to an increase in the national electricity demand, Morocco has chosen to develop integrated programs in renewable energy, particularly solar and wind. For his part, the Director of the National Office for Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE) Ali Fassi Fihri, stressed that the realization of the Noor integrated solar complex of Ouarzazate is fully in line with efforts to meet future electricity needs through an integrated approach to sustainable development.

As an integral part of the Moroccan solar energy project, the Noor solar complex will benefit from the support of the National Office for Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE) in infrastructure. The ONEE will proceed to carry out construction to connect the future complex to the national grid, as well as to ensure the supply of industrial and potable water to the complex. France, Morocco’s main economic partner, has already expressed interest in carrying out the second phase of project. At the beginning of the year, Paris won a contract for the production of wind energy in the region of Tarfaya

(in the south-west) through the French group GDF SUEZ which will start building the largest wind power station in Africa in collaboration with a local firm, Nareva. The goal  of this project, which will have a budget of about 500 million Euros, is to produce 300MW of wind power. The complex could be operational in 2014.

The Clean Technology Fund has just approved the funding award worth 218 million dollars for the second phase of the Ouarzazate solar project. This funding is part of a regional project including Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan with a total of 660 million dollars of which 415 million dollars (or 63% of the amount allocated to the region) will be for Morocco.

Source:  Al Sharq al Awsat, Mº AA EE de España y otros, 12/05/2013

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