Morocco receives bids for world's largest solar project

02 October 2014

Concentrated solar schemes will form part of Ouarzazate complex

The Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen) has received bids from developer consortiums to build the world’s largest solar project at its Ouarzazate solar complex in the southern-central region of the country.

A total of three groups submitted tariff prices for both components – Noor 2 and Noor 3 – of the second phase of the Ouarzazate scheme, while a fourth submitted a price for only the Noor 3 scheme.

While the final levelised tariff for the schemes has yet to be formalised, due to the client having a private evaluation formula, MEED has acquired results for the initial standalone and combined tariffs for the Noor 2 and Noor 3 projects.

The schemes will be developed through an independent power project (IPP) procurement model. Noor 2 is a concentrated solar power (CSP) parabolic trough scheme, with a capacity of 200MW with storage. The Noor 3 project is a CSP tower scheme with a capacity of 150MW.

When completed, the scheme will surpass the Shams 100MW solar farm in Abu Dhabi, which was the world’s largest operational solar plant when commissioned in March 2013. The combined 350MW capacity also dwarves the capacity of the 160MW Noor 1 CSP project, currently under construction.

For the Noor 2 scheme, the consortium led by Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power International submitted the lowest tariff price of $cents16 a kilowatt hour ($c/kWh). The consortium led by Spain’s Abengoa submitted a tariff price that was 10.5 per cent higher, while the UK/French GDF Suez submitted a tariff 24 per cent higher than Acwa Power’s price.

For the Noor 2 combined tariff, including Noor 3, Acwa Power also submitted the lowest tariff, with a price of $c15.7/kWh. Abengoa submitted a proposal that was 11.9 per cent higher, while the GDF Suez consortium’s tariff was 23.6 per cent higher.

For the Noor 3 scheme, Abengoa submitted the lowest tariff of $c16.7/kWh. This was less than 2 per cent lower than Acwa Power’s tariff, with France’s EDF submitting the third-lowest tariff. EDF was only prequalified for the Noor 3 scheme and did not submit combined tariff prices for both projects.

For the Noor 3 combined tariff, Acwa Power was again the low bidder, with a submitted tariff of $c16.3/kWh, which was marginally less than Abengoa’s tariff and substantially lower than the price entered by the GDF Suez consortium.

The submitted tariffs for the standalone and combined projects are:

200MW Noor 2 (trough) standalone 
BidderTariff price
Acwa Power International (Saudi Arabia)/Sener (Spain)$c16/kWh (lowest tariff)
Abengoa/Abengoa Solar (Spain)+10.5 per cent
GDF Suez International Energy (UK/France)/Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) (UAE)/Solar Reserve (US)+24 per cent
200MW Noor 2 combined 
BidderTariff price
Acwa Power International/Sener$c15.7/kWh (lowest tariff)
Abengoa/Abengoa Solar+11.9 per cent
GDF Suez International Energy/Masdar/Solar Reserve+23.6 per cent
150MW Noor 3 (tower) standalone 
BidderTariff price
Abengoa/Abengoa Solar$c16.7/kWh (lowest tariff)
Acwa Power International/Sener+1.16 per cent
 EDF (France)/Mitsui (Japan)/Brightsource (US)/Alstom (France)/Brookstone Partners (Morocco)+2.1 per cent
GDF Suez International Energy/Masdar/Solar Reserve+41 per cent
150MW Noor 3 (tower) combined 
BidderTariff price
Acwa Power International/Sener$c16.3/kWh (lowest tariff)
Abengoa/Abengoa Solar+1.56 per cent
GDF Suez International Energy/Masdar/Solar Reserve+43.1 per cent

For the first phase of Noor 1, Acwa Power was awarded the contract in late 2012 to develop the project under a contract tariff of $c18.9/kWh, the lowest ever tariff selected for CSP technology. The Acwa Power consortium signed a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) for the first phase, which will be worth an estimated total of $1.1bn over the period.

The solar schemes are part of Morocco’s national energy strategy, which involves a target of generating 42 per cent of the country’s power from renewable energy by 2020.

Progress with the Noor projects is a boost for the region’s renewable energy sector, which, despite initial optimism at the start of the year, has not lived up to expectations in 2014 due to no progress with Saudi Arabia’s 54GW renewable energy programme and the cancellation of the third round of Jordan’s renewable plans.

In addition to the solar schemes, Rabat is also pushing ahead with an ambitious wind energy programme. In August, the Office National de l’Electricite et de l’Eau Potable (ONEE) received technical bids for the build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) contract to develop five wind farms with a total capacity of 850MW. Following bid evaluation, the client will shortlist groups to submit a commercial tariff proposal for the scheme, which will have an estimated total construction cost of $2.1bn.

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