World Bank approves $519 million for 350 MW of solar CSP in Morocco

The World Bank has approved loans of US$400 million from the Bank and another $119 million from its Clean Technology Fund to the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) to support 350 MW of solar CSP.

These second and third phases of the Noor project in Ouarzazate, Morocco will involve 150-200 MW of parabolic trough CSP and a 100-150 MW solar power tower CSP plant. These follow on an adjacent 160 MW parabolic trough CSP initial phase which began construction in May 2013. When complete the three phases will comprise the largest single-site grouping of CSP projects in the world.

The total cost of the next two phases totals $2.68 billion, of which MASEN will provide $357 million. The remaining $1.80 billion will be provided by various development banks and funds. The German Development Bank (KfW) will play a leading role, supplying $884 million, and the European Investment Bank (EIB) another $473 million.

Mercom Capital CEO Raj Prabhu say this dependence upon development banks is typical. “You don’t see a lot of private investment going in,” notes Prabhu. “There are very few deals in CSP.” Mercom’s project tracker counts this as the seventh funding announcement for a CSP project in 2014 to date, and all but one were made by development banks.

MASEN has not yet announced its final choice of contractors for the project, despite pre-approving seven project teams in August 2013 for the two phases.

Morocco is highly dependent upon imported fossil fuels for its electric supply, and is additionally a net importer of electricity. The nation plans to get 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, and has enacted a suite of policies to support the building of the estimated 9 GW of projects that will require.