Morocco starts construction on 70 MW Noor Ouarzazate IV PV plant


Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has launched the construction of the 70 MW Noor Ouarzazate IV PV plant on Saturday. This fourth phase of the project is the PV portion of the 580 MW Ouarzazate Solar Power Station (OSPS), a CSP-PV solar power complex located in the Drâa-Tafilalet region, central Morocco.

The complex consists of the 160 MW Noor 1 CSP power station, which was completed in February 2016, and the Noor 2 CSP and Noor 3 CSP, which are currently under development and will have a capacity of 200 MW and 150 MW, respectively. According to the Moroccan government, the Noor 2 CSP and Noor 3 CSP plants have reached a completion rate of 76% and 74%, respectively.

The Noor Ouarzazate IV PV project is also part of the Noor PV 1 program, which includes the construction of a 30 MW PV plant in Laayoune and a 20 MW PV power station located in Boujdour.

In November, the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen) signed a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Acwa Power for the development of the three projects. At the time, Masen told pv magazine that “the combined kilowatt hour (kWh) rate of the three projects making up the Noor PV 1 program (with an aggregate capacity of about 170 MW) is 0.46 dirhams (€0.045).”

Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power was selected after an international tender to develop, build and operate the three plants under a BOOT (Build, Operate, Own and Transfer) scheme. Acwa Power contracted the world’s largest EPC company, Sterling and Wilson, to construct the installations in late November.

Masen issued green bonds in the amount of 1.15 billion dirhams ($114.4 million) for the projects, which are being developed in the framework of a three-part Independent Power Production (IPP) plan with Morocco's power utility ONEE.  The bonds were underwritten by local financial institutions Al Barid Bank, Attijariwafa Bank, the CMR (Caisse Marocaine de Retraite), and the SCR (Société Centrale de Réassurance).

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German government-owned development bank KfW has provided €60 million ($64.0 million) in financing for the Noor Ouarzazate IV project, whose required investment is 750 million MAD ($74.6 million).

The Noor Ouarzazate IV PV project is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2018, while the 580 MW Ouarzazate solar complex is expected to be finalized by 2020.

The World Bank, along with the African Development Bank and the ClF, have provided over $1 billion in financing for the Noor project. The project is budgeted at a total of some €$2.2 billion. As the largest financier on the project, the KfW is financing some €829 million, or nearly 40%.

Other funding partners included the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union and the World Bank.

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