Portugal, Morocco to invite bids for power link after studies in 2019

SKHIRAT, Morocco (Reuters) - Portugal and Morocco will invite bids to build an undersea electricity cable linking the two countries after technical and financial feasibility studies are completed in early 2019, a senior Portuguese official said on Monday.

Morocco and Portugal agreed in 2015 on plans for a 1,000 megawatt (MW) link. Feasibility studies were launched in 2016.

Portuguese Secretary of State for Energy Joao Galamba told Reuters that the two governments aimed to issue the invitations to bid “immediately after the feasibility study”

“Both governments are strongly committed to this project,” he said on the sidelines of an energy conference in Skhirat, near the capital Rabat.

The project, which aims to be operational before 2030, was estimated to cost 600 million-700 million euros ($686 million-$800 million), Galamba said, adding that he expected European and African funds would contribute to covering the costs.

The link will be Morocco’s second with Europe. The North African country has been linked to Spain’s grid via a 700 MW cable since 1997.

“The flows will go in both directions depending on our needs,” Galamba said. “In the beginning Portugal will export a little bit more than Morocco but after a few years it will be the opposite.”

The 250 km (156 mile) cable linking Morocco and Portugal aims to encourage the development of renewable energy in both countries.

Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi; Editing by Edmund Blair