| CASABLANCA, Morocco
CASABLANCA, Morocco May 22 Morocco plans to
speed up tender processes for the development of a
2,000-megawatt solar energy plan, starting with the award this
year of a first contract for 160 megawatts to be generated using
concentrated-solar technology (CSP).
Mustafa Bakkoury, who chairs the Moroccan Agency for Solar
Energy (Masen), said a winning consortium for that first phase
of a 500-megawatt solar power plant, in the southern region of
Ouarzazate, would be announced by the start of summer.
Ouarzazate's 500-megawatt complex, which should be completed
by 2015, is the first in the so-called Moroccan Solar Plan that
aims to produce 2 GW of solar power by 2020, which corresponds
to 38 percent of the country's current installed power
"Works (on Ouarzazate's first 160-megawatt phase) will start
in the third or fourth quarter of 2012 and we aim to complete
the work," Bakkoury told the two-day Solar Maghreb conference in
Masen will pick a winner for the 160-megawatt parabolic
trough plant from the three following consortia:
- Abeinsa ICI, Abengoa Solar, Mitsui and Abu Dhabi
National Energy Co.
- Enel and ACS SCE
- International Company for Water and Power (ACWA), Aries IS
and TSK EE.
Masen will then launch tenders to build a 50-megawatt
photovoltaic module and CSP towers of at least 50 megawatts,
both of which in Ouarzazate, Bakkoury said.
"We will be moving faster in the launch of Morocco's Solar
Plan projects ... Our initial goal to have 2,000 megawatts from
solar energy by 2020 is still on," he said.
Morocco has embarked on one of the world's biggest renewable
energy development plans involving solar and wind power.
The solar power plan is worth $9 billion in investment and
will include five power stations, two of which are located in
the disputed Western Sahara.
Facing an electricity demand that rises by an annual 7
percent and a gaping trade deficit from heavy reliance on fossil
fuel imports, Morocco also bets renewable energies would enable
it to export electricity to energy-hungry trade partner, the
Coupled with a wind energy development scheme, the solar
development plan should reduce Morocco's annual imports of
fossil fuels by 2.5 million tonnes of oil equivalent and prevent
emissions of 9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Morocco aims to export surplus electricity to Europe via
Spain, where it has a power market trading licence that allows
it to sell electricity.
"We expect energy demand to double by 2020 and then to
quadruple by 2030," said Taoufik Laabi, head of planning and
strategy at power utility ONE. He noted that the percentage of
solar-generated electricity that will be exported would depend
on "availability of surpluses".
Pending a drop in the high production costs of solar plants,
the Moroccan government will cover any gap between the cost of
producing solar electricity and the price ONE pays to buy the
electricity from Masen, said Masen's Bakkoury.
"The costs are high but we think they will be declining
going forward ... Developing solar power is an irreversible
choice for us," said Bakkoury.
"I hope we will not rely on public funding for too long," he
(Reporting By Souhail Karam; editing by Keiron Henderson)