• The US-based World Bank is lending $158m to Morocco to finance solar projects
  • $124m will go towards three 25MW solar photovoltaic plants
  • The planned second phase will consist of 200MW across eight sites

The Washington-based World Bank has arranged a $158m loan to Morocco’s National Office for Electricity & Water (ONEE), to finance rural solar photovoltaic (PV) projects.

The loan will fund the first phase of ONEE’s 400MW solar PV programme.

About $124m of the loan will cover three 25MW solar PV plants near the towns of Erfoud, Zagora and Missour in south eastern Morocco, and at least 22 kilometres of transmission lines.

ONEE intends to launch an international competitive tender for an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract and a five-year operations and maintenance (O&M) contract to design, construct, operate and maintain the three plants.

The International Bank for Reconstruction & Development (IBRD) will provide $94.5m, while the Clean Technology Fund (CTF), part of the World Bank, will provide $24m to finance the installation of the solar PV plants. ONEE will finance the O&M costs.

The rest of the loan will be used to finance technical assistance and the costs of developing ONEE’s ability to manage independent power projects (IPPs).

ONEE’s three-phase strategy aims to develop 400MW of grid-connected decentralised solar PV power at 16 sites near high-voltage transmission lines.

ONEE has approached the European Investment Bank (EIB) and German development bank KfW to secure financing for the second phase, which involves developing 200MW across eight sites.

The third phase is still in the study phase.

The World Bank approved a $300m Development Policy Loan (DPL) on green reforms in 2013. A second DPL is under preparation.

Morocco is also carrying out three solar PV IPP projects. The Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen) has invited expressions of interest for the 50-70MW Noor 4 project, with an option to also bid for two 50MW projects near Laayoun.

A consortium led by Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power is developing 475MW of concentrated solar power (CSP) capacity at the Noor Ouarzazate site, the world’s largest CSP plant.

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