The Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen) has invited expressions of interest to build a 500MW solar facility in Ouarzazate.

The selected bidder will design, construct, operate, maintain and finance the project. Proposals for facilities using either photovoltaic solar and concentrated solar power are invited.

Interested parties have until 24 May to submit expressions of interest, according to the agency. A request for qualification will follow in the third quarter this year followed by a request for proposals in the fourth quarter.

The chosen site is located in the Tamezghitene area, approximately 10 kilometres north-east of the city of Ouarzazate. The project will cover an area of around 3,300 hectares (MEED 11:1:10).

The region receives an average direct normal radiation of 7.22 kWh a square metre a day, and the Mansour Eddahbi dam is 4km away. This is significant as access to water is important for the running concentrated solar power facilities.

Morocco Power

  • 5,290MW: Total current installed capacity
  • 2,000MW: Planned solar energy capacity by 2020
  • 2,000MW: Planned hydropower capacity by 2020
  • 2,000MW: Planned wind power capacity by 2020

Source: Office Nationale d’Electricite (2008) and Masen (2009)

The site is also near an existing 225/60kV high voltage transmission lines. The scheme will comprise several units which will be commissioned by early-2015.

Morocco has initiated an ambitious strategy to boost the share of renewable energies in the kingdom’s power sector to satisfy increasing domestic demand.

The target is to develop 2,000MW wind, 2,000MW hydroelectric and 2,000MW solar installed capacity by 2020, which is expected to represent 42 per cent of the total power generation capacity.

The Ouarzazate project was originally led by Morocco’s Office National de l’ Electricite (ONE) as a government-procured project, but was then passed to the newly created state-owned company Masen under the Moroccan law 57/09 and adopted in an independent power project (IPP) structure.

The project will likely benefit from funds sourced from the World Bank-administered Clean Technology Fund, which earmarked $750 million finance in December 2009 for the purpose of promoting the deployment of concentrated solar power in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia.