Construction of the 160MW Noor 1 CSP project has officially started following a ground breaking ceremony held on 10 May attended by King Mohammed VI.

Located in Souss-Massa-Draa, Ouarzazate, Morocco, the project represents the first solar project to be developed for the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) and is the first in a series of several planned developments at the Noor 1 Solar Complex. MASEN has plans to install a total of 500MW at the Noor 1 complex incorporating several utility-scale solar power plants using various solar technologies.

According to Saudi Arabia-based ACWA Power International, the project will represent the first utility-scale solar thermal plant in Morocco.

The project will be developed on a build, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) basis by ACWA Power Ouarzazate while EPC services will be carried out by a consortium consisting of TSK Electrónica y Electicidad, Acciona Infrastructuras, Acciona Ingeniería and Sener Ingeniería y Sistemas. As part of the contract, the consortium will procure some of the components from Morocco.

The plant is scheduled to become commercially operational in the second half of 2015. When complete, operation and maintenance services will be provided by a consortium led by NOMAC, a subsidiary of ACWA Power.

Output from the plant will be purchased by MASEN under a 25-year power purchase agreement worth US$1 billion.

Mohammed A. Abunayyan, chairman of ACWA Power stated: “We at ACWA Power are proud of the fruitful cooperation with the concerned Moroccan entities, in both public and private sectors, and here I would like to commend the professional efforts of MASEN, which managed the tender with full transparency in a record time and the ability to collect and manage a mixture of international financial institutions that each and every one of them had different and special requirements.”

Abunayyan continued: “We have been able, through this project, to effectively participate in the Kingdom of Morocco’s renewable energy strategy which has become a model for the development of renewable energy industry in terms of technology, implementation and cost."

The project is being supported by the German government which has provided €115 million (US$149 million) for the project, of which €15 million is from KfW bank while the remaining €100 million is from low-interest loans from Germany’s Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.