The Moroccan Agency for Solar Development (Masen) has invited bids by 11 November from technical consultants to advise on the development of a concentrated solar power (CSP) tower.

The assistance will be focused on the development of specifications that will be used in the tender process. To do this, the adviser will include an analysis of existing CSP tower technologies, investment and operational costs, associated risks both during construction and operation, suitability to grid conditions, land requirement, water usage, cooling options and environmental impacts.

The consultant will also provide recommendations on the optimal plant configuration in terms of plant size and capacity of integrated storage.

As Masen will cover the cost of the advisory contract through a $651,886 grant from the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), only US-based firms have been invited to participate in the tender.

The project will be built at Ouarzazate next to another CSP project which will use parabolic trough technology. The CSP trough project will have a capacity of 125MW and the contract to build the project is currently being tendered by Masen (MEED 23:8:11). In total, five solar projects are planned for Ouarzazate.

Morocco currently relies very heavily on imported sources of energy, particularly coal and oil, to meet more than 97 per cent of the country’s energy needs. The costs of energy imports place a strain the country’s trade balance. At the same time, Morocco has vast renewable energy resources that have largely gone untapped, particularly in solar energy.

In response, the government launched the national Moroccan Plan for Solar Energy in November 2009. The solar plan calls for the development of at least 2GW of solar power generation capacity by 2020. In March 2010, Masen was established as the state-owned agency responsible for executing the plan.