Two concentrated solar power plants producing 200MW and 100MW respectively will be built near the south-Moroccan city of Ouarzazate.
Both proposed power plants are expected to use the sun-beam concentrating technology that relies on precision-curved mirrors to focus the sunlight from a large area onto a small area, for example from a solar field onto a tower. Electricity is generated when light is converted into heat, powering a small turbine or a thermochemical reactor.
"The capacity will depend on the contractors, who could bid for more than the announced capacity, especially with the 100MW tower which could reach 200m, the highest tower ever seen in Morocco," said one of the sources related to Morocco’s Solar Energy Agency, which will run the tender.
The newly announced projects will be supported through grants from the World Bank's Clean Technology Fund, the European Investment Bank and German state-owned KfW Bank. The official announcement is expected to be made in the next weeks, the source said to Reuters.
Morocco has been investing heavily in solar power generation, trying to make use of the country having one of the highest rates of solar insolation in the world — about 3,000 hours per year of sunshine.
In May this year, Saudi Arabia’s company Acwa Power has started building a 160MW solar power plant in the Ouarzazate area, reportedly the world's biggest solar power project. The power plant should generate 2GW of solar power by 2020, which is equivalent to 38 per cent of Morocco's existing generation capacity.
So far, Morocco has been largely dependent on energy imports from Spain. However, this might change soon. To diversify the country’s energy mix, Morocco has signed a contract last week with a Chinese firm Sepco III to build a 318MW coal-fired plant. The project should not only help meet Morocco’s demand, which is growing by 7 per cent per year, but is also expected to help the country to become an energy exporter.
State power utility ONEE has also agreed with international lenders to build around 10 solar photovoltaic plants around the country to generate 30MW each to help stabilise its electricity network as it faces growing demand.