Plans for the first Desertec cooperation project between EU member states and Morocco have stalled after Spain failed to attend the official signing of the agreement.

Representatives from Morocco, France, Italy, Malta and Luxemburg travelled to Berlin this week to sign a memorandum of understanding with Germany to begin work on a large-scale solar and wind power project in Morocco.

However, the signing had to be put on hold after a representative from Spain, a crucial participant, failed to show.

The Desertec Industrial Initiative (Dii) aims to support and prepare all necessary frameworks for renewable energy projects — including solar projects — located in deserts predominantly in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

The business case for a Desertec Reference Project had been prepared by Dii and the Moroccan Solar Agency Masen. PV-Tech is told the project had been extensively discussed for the past two years with Spanish companies, the TSO Red Electrica and the European Commission, and declared feasible.

Dii CEO, Paul van Son, said: “I’m confident that the other partners in this negotiation, from Morocco and the EU states, will be able to convince Spain soon as Spain could profit a lot.”

Under this first EU-Morocco Desertec Industrial Initiative project, German utility RWE will oversee the development of large-scale photovoltaic, wind and concentrating solar power (CSP) projects in Morocco.

The resulting 100MW PV power plant, 100MW wind power plant and 150MW CSP power plant are due to export electricity to Europe. Spain is a key participant in the Desertec project since a major transmission line connecting North Africa to Europe would have to go through Spain.

This latest setback comes shortly after Desertec member company Siemens announced it would withdraw from the solar industry and from the Desertec project.