Morocco’s PV: 170 MW tender concluded; new solar and energy storage tender under way

On 15 November 2016, during COP22 (the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), Masen signed a 20-years long power purchase agreement (PPA) with Acwa Power for the development of 170 MW of solar PV plants, said a Masen spokeswoman to pv magazine.

The new PV capacity regards the Noor PV 1 program, that comprises three solar plants in three different cities of Morocco. Specifically, Noor PV 1 comprises a 70 MW photovoltaic plant located in Ouarzazate, a 80 MW plant located in Laayoune and a 20 MW plant located in Boujdour, said Masen.

Saudi Arabia’s “Acwa Power was selected after an international tender and will be responsible for the development, construction and long term operation of the three plants under a BOOT (Build, Operate, Own and Transfer) scheme,” the same spokeswoman said.

New solar CSP, PV and storage tender under way

More exciting news follows. According to Masen’s spokeswoman, the agency “is now working on the tender for the development of the first phase of the NOOR Midelt solar complex (‘NOOR Midelt Phase 1 Projects’)”.

“This phase would cover two hybrid PV and CSP power plant projects with storage. The CSP gross capacity is expected to be between 150 MW and 190 MW for each project. The PV capacity is to be proposed by developers based on request for proposal (RfP) requirements. After conclusive experiences with PV Panels,” she told pv magazine.

The process for selecting the project’s technologies and the tender was explained to more detail. Thus, Masen said, the technology configuration at the Midelt complex depends on site characteristics, the national grid’s needs and economy of scales.

Regarding the tender process, this follows a selection of international applicants with multiple stages that start “with a call for expression of interest to sound the market and check the market feasibility, followed by a pre-qualification step and a two stage RfP process, where bidders can submit their technical offer and then their financial offer,” Masen added.

Such a process, the Masen spokeswoman argued, helps the Moroccan agency to select a developer of international standards who also meets Masen’s requirements for an optimised price per unit of KWh.

Green financing

pv magazine has reported before that the NOOR PV 1 program is going to be partly financed by Morocco’s first ever green bond.

NOOR PV 1 total cost will be around US$ 220 million, while Morocco’s green bond issue is 1150 million dirhams (€106 million), said Masen.

Furthermore, Masen added, the bond issue was completed through private placement following the authorization of the Moroccan Authority of Capital Market to the following investors: the Al Barid Bank, the Attijariwafa Bank, the Caisse Marocaine des Retraites and the Société Centrale de Réassurance.

Turning to PV

This is fantastic news that will lead to Morocco adding hundreds of photovoltaic installations in the immediate years. The PV sector has been watching Morocco’s stunning CSP progress feeling rather excluded. The country inaugurated its first 160 MW CSP plant in February near the Ouarzazate town, with further plans to increase the CSP capacity in Quarzazate at about 500 MW.

This has led many analysts wondering why Morocco does not have plans to install photovoltaics too. Masen told pv magazine the agency it is “technology agnostic”. The CSP technology was used in various forms on the complex at Ouarzazate, however now, we have tendered the development of the three photovoltaic solar plants (Noor PV 1) and work on the tender for the NOOR Midelt solar complex, Masen concluded.