Morocco’s ‘largest rooftop solar plant’ nears completion with cold storage

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Adding cold storage also turned out to be a critical factor in allowing the solar plant to function well with the factory. Credit: EBRD

Casablanca-based confectionery and chewing gum producer Maghreb Industries is close to fully implementing a 1,361kWp rooftop solar system combined with an ice-based storage system on the roof of its new factory.

Maghreb CEO Hakim Marrakchi, who said he was inspored by rooftop solar on the roof of a Belgian chocolate factory, sought funding from the EBRD, which then provided a €4.6 million loan through its Finance and Technology Transfer Centre for Climate Change (FINTECC).

Adding cold storage also turned out to be a critical factor in allowing the solar plant to function well with the factory.

Marrakchi said: “For an efficient energy system to work, you need to have a balance between energy produced and energy consumed. Our energy needs vary widely and we wouldn’t always need all the energy the solar plant would produce. However, you can’t inject excess electricity into the national grid in Morocco, so we needed to find a way to store it.”

FINTECC also provided a €360,790 incentive grant and technical support financed by the European Union to implement a range of renewable-energy and energy-efficient technologies at the factory. Efficiency was critical given that Morocco imports a significant amount of its energy and is exposed to global price fluctuations as well as decreasing government subsidies.

Maghreb claims this is the largest rooftop PV project in Morocco. Meanwhile, the ice-based cold storage system allows the factory to store power during off-peak hours and use it during peak hours to cut costs. The factory also has energy management software, a heat-recovery chimney and external insulation.

Marrakchi said the project has not yet been fully implemented, but the solar plant is already producing up to 60% of the factory’s electricity needs, offsetting use of gasoline and grid electricity.

He also hopes that the project will inspire other businesses in Morocco to explore solar power and improve energy efficiency, since several other companies have already approached Maghreb asking for help on implementing similar plants.

Back in June, the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) shortlisted five consortia to take part in the bidding for the first phase of the Noor Midelt solar power complex, which includes large-scale hybrid solar PV and concentrated solar power (CSP) plants.

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