November 14, 2016 / 2:31 PM / 3 years ago

Morocco to tender for 800 MW solar plants by start of 2017

MARRAKESH, Morocco, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Morocco plans to launch tenders for the construction of two solar plants with a combined capacity of up to 800 megawatts (MW) by the start of 2017, the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen) said on Monday.

The agency invited pre-qualification bids from investors last month for the construction and operation of the plants, each of which will produce up to 400 megawatts (MW) and will be built near the central town of Midelt.

Morocco recently expanded a 2009 solar and wind power initiative and now aims to produce 10 gigawatts (GW) by 2030 rather than 4 GW by 2020. Under the new plan, 52 percent of Morocco’s energy needs would come renewable sources, up from about 28 percent of installed capacity now.

Masen President Mustapha Bakkoury told Reuters he expected the pre-qualification results for the two solar plants in a few weeks with tenders to be launched by the start of next year.

Masen has chosen a hybrid system which uses concentrated solar plant (CSP) and photovoltaic (PV) technologies. The CSP part will use a parabolic trough heating synthetic oil with a gross capacity of 150 MW to 190 MW and a minimum of five hours full-load storage to cover peak hours after sunset, Masen said.

The North African kingdom has already secured a 710 million euro ($765 million) loan from German state-owned bank KFW to finance some of the cost of the two plants, which bankers estimate at 2 billion euros.

“All the usual lenders, including the World Bank and the African Development bank (AfDB), will be part of the financing deal,” Bakkoury said on the sidelines of COP22, a U.N. climate change conference being held in Morocco.

He declined to give further details because the loans need to be approved by the lenders’ boards before any official announcement.

KFW has already helped fund the development of solar power in Morocco. It was by far the largest lender for the second phase of the 580 MW Ouarzazate project, providing Masen with 654 million euros to build the plants Noor II and Noor III with a combined capacity of 350 MW megawatts.

Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power IPO-ACWA.SE built the first 160 MW plant, Noor I, near the southern city of Ouarzazate and has started construction of Noor II and Noor III in the same area.

The government’s solar plans have been supported by the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the European Union as well as other smaller financial institutions.

$1 = 0.9278 euros Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; editing by David Clarke

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