(Adds confirmation from solar energy agency)
By Aziz El Yaakoubi
RABAT, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Morocco will launch tenders by the start of the fourth quarter for the construction of two concentrated solar power plants, one 200 megawatts (MW) and the other 100 MW, near the southern city of Ouarzazate, its solar energy agency said on Thursday.
Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power is already building a 160 MW plant in the Ouarzazate area under a government initiative to produce 2 gigawatts of solar power by 2020, which is equivalent to about 38 percent of Morocco’s current installed generation capacity.
Morocco’s Solar Energy Agency (Masen) said consortia led by Spain’s Abengoa, GDF’s International Power and Acwa Power had been pre-selected for the 200 MW (Noor II) tender.
The three groups are also pre-qualified for the 100 MW tender, with another consortium led by France’s EDF.
The authority has chosen parabolic mirror technology for the 200 MW concentrated solar plant, while the 100 MW plant will also be built as a solar power tower.
Government and banking sources earlier told Reuters about the tenders.
“The capacity ... will depend on the contractors, who could bid for more than the announced capacity, especially with the 100 MW tower which could reach 200 metres, the highest tower ever seen in Morocco,” one of the sources told Reuters.
Acwa Power won the contract for the first plant last year after offering a price of 1.62 dirhams ($0.19) per kilowatt/hour that it produces from the plant.
State power utility ONEE has also agreed with international lenders to build around 10 solar photovoltaic plants around the country to generate 30 MW each to help stabilise its electricity network as it faces growing demand.
The World Bank’s Clean Technology Fund, the European Investment Bank and German state-owned KfW Bank have given their initial agreement to help finance the project, with the official announcement expected in the coming weeks, banking sources said.
Last week, Chinese firm Sepco III signed a contract to build a 318 MW coal-fired plant in Morocco, which is seeking to diversify production and export electricity to energy-hungry Europe.
Morocco is spending heavily to subsidise power production. It currently imports power from Spain as its consumption grows by around 7 percent year. (Editing by Jane Baird and Mark Potter)