November 3, 2009 / 5:46 AM / 10 years ago

Morocco unveils $9 bln solar power scheme

Workers install solar panels on what will be the world's biggest integrated solar panel roof, 36,000 square metres spread over five hangars, at a farm in Weinbourg, Eastern France February 12, 2009. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

OUARZAZATE, Morocco (Reuters) - Morocco announced on Monday a solar energy project worth $9 billion which officials said will account for 38 percent of the North African country’s installed power generation by 2020.

The project will involve five solar power generation sites across Morocco and will produce 2,000 megawatts of electricity by 2020, Energy Minister Amina Benkhadra said at a ceremony in Ouarzazate, south of the Atlas mountains, to launch the scheme.

Funding would be from a mix of private and state capital, she added. The ceremony was attended by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Moroccan king.

Morocco’s power utility ONE Chairman Ali Fassi Fihri said the project would make the country a pioneer in renewable energy generation.

“The project would add in terms of power generation the equivalent of the current electricity consumption of the country’s commercial capital Casablanca,” Fihri added.

Morocco is the only North African country with no oil production of its own and eager to develop renewable energy sources to cut its oil and gas imports.

“This is a bold but realistic project. We will guarantee all the technical and financial resources to make it succeed,” Benkhadra said, adding that foreign energy operators would be involved in the project.

“We look for the most sophisticated technology available in the world to use for this project,” she said but gave no date when the tenders would be launched for the solar scheme.

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