The Moroccan government has denied that all investors are shunning a US$9 billion solar project in the Western Saharan region following reports that banks were shying away from the disputed territory.
There are plans for five huge solar projects and three of them, totalling 1.1GW in capacity, are in or border with the Western Sahara.
An Algerian-backed group is seeking independence for the region. At the turn of the year Reuters reported that a number of major banks were putting investments in the area on hold.
One bank told Reuters: “If we support those investments, it would look like we are supporting the Moroccan position. We are neutral regarding that conflict.”
This week the country’s foreign minister, Salaheddine Mezouar, told Reuters he was not concerned about the position taken by the World Bank and the European Investment Bank.
“That is their problem. We have no financing problems. We have several [investors] that are Japanese, Chinese, Gulf countries [sic],” he said.
“The goal is to achieve 2,000MW, and we will continue with our plan. The Western Sahara issue has nothing to do with it. The financing is not conditioned on whether plants are in Sahara or not. Western Sahara needs renewable energy, and the investment will be made. If some people don't want to come, others will,” the minister concluded.
Work has already begun on a 160MW concentrated solar power project in the country.
Abengoa, Brightsource and Alstom are among the firms that have taken pole position in the tendering process for future CSP work.
Morocco was a key component of the Desertec plan to export excess renewable energy from North Africa to Europe.