Morocco secures $25 million loan for a NOOR hybrid solar project

Morocco’s NOOR Midelt Phase I, a hybrid Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) and Photovoltaic (PV) project, will be financially underpinned by a $25 million loan from the Climate Investment Funds’ Clean Technology Fund (CIF CTF).

Playing a critical role in driving down the cost of the project’s capital and lowering the LCOE, the funding comes as an addition to $25 million in CTF resources already provided by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Bank.

As reported previously, the project will consist of two separate CSP plants, each with 150-190 MW CSP capacity and a minimum of five hours of thermal storage. Meanwhile, the capacity of the PV component is currently assessed at 150-210 MW, making the total capacity of each of the proposed plants 300-400 MW and the total capacity of this first phase 600-800 MW.

The project is among those realized by the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (MASEN), as part of the Noor Solar Plan to develop a minimum capacity of 2 GW by 2020, 680 MW of which have already been successfully commissioned in the Ouarzazate, Laayoune and Boujdour.

As specified, the Midelt Phase I hybrid solar project will be carried out based on a public-private partnership between MASEN and private sector sponsors – under a Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) scheme, who are due to form a special purpose vehicle to build and operate the plants and sell the generated electricity to MASEN under a 25-year PPA.

In June, MASEN announced that five consortia had been shortlisted to participate in the request for proposals process of phase I of the Noor Midelt project including: EDF Energies Nouvelles Consortium, ENGIE Consortium, Innogy SE Consortium, JGC Consortium and ACWA Power Consortium, which had been previously selected to develop 170 MW of solar PV plants, including a 70 MW photovoltaic plant located in Ouarzazate, a 80 MW plant located in Laayoune and a 20 MW plant located in Boujdour, as part of the Noor PV 1 program at a rate of €0.0422 per kWh.

“In 2015, the world saw an important shift in CSP investment from the developed to the developing world, particularly in Morocco” stated Anthony Nyong, AfDB’s Director, Climate Change and Green Growth. “Morocco’s path-changing NOOR CSP program under CTF, for which we serve as implementing agency, has been a critical element of that shift. This new project, which will be modeled on the Noor operational and financial structure, will increase the development of solar energy and further help diversify the country’s energy mix and enhance its energy security. We believe that the project can serve as a model for other countries in the region and beyond,” he added.

The project will bring Morocco closer to its Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement, including its goal of sourcing 52% of energy from renewables, 20% of which is to come from solar, by 2030.

“Until now, CSP has been the dominant renewable energy technology assuring electricity during peak hours and by adding a PV component, we expect enhancing the reliability of the power plant” stated Leandro Azevedo, AfDB’s CIF Program Coordinator and Senior Climate Finance Officer. “The combination of these two technologies will allow Morocco to optimize the dispatch of generated power during the daytime by ensuring that the utilization of the CSP component can be maximized during night-time through the use of thermal storage,” he said.