US$500 million for Moroccan CSP plant

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Morocco has secured a US$519 million loan from the World Bank to finance the second phase of the 500MW Noor concentrated solar power project near the southern city of Ouarzazate.

Noor is Morocco’s first utility-scale solar project and is expected to supply power to over 1 million Moroccans by 2018, according to the bank.

The 160MW first phase of the project is currently under construction. The 350MW second phase will consist of two separate projects – a 200MW parabolic trough plant and a 150MW solar tower installation.

According to an unnamed source quoted by news agency Reuters, details of the winning tenders for the construction of the plants will be revealed in the coming days. Last summer, three pre-qualifying bidders for the trough installation were named and four for the solar tower element.

“Morocco stands at the forefront of climate-friendly policies in the region,” said Inger Andersen, World Bank regional vice president for the Middle East and North Africa. “The country is well positioned to benefit from its head-start at a time when other regional powers are beginning to think more seriously about their own renewable energy programmes.”

“Apart from creating jobs, the construction of the plant and the development of Morocco’s Solar Plan will establish a future source of reliable green energy,” said Simon Gray, World Bank country director for the Maghreb. “The Noor-Ouarzazate Solar Complex alone will supply power to 1.1 million Moroccans by 2018.”

Details of the finance package for Noor-Ourzazate come only days after the backers of a similar-sized CSP plant in the US, the 500MW Palen in California, pulled the plug on the project.

Abengoa and Brightsource last week withdrew their application to the California Public Utilities Commission for the project without citing any specific reasons why.

CSP in the States has faced opposition on a number of fronts, including claims over its harm to local wildlife.

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