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Major European support for first large solar project in North Africa

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First solar project in North Africa receives strong European support of €345m*, representing more than 50 per cent of the total cost of the project.

A financial commitment of €300m was signed today in Marrakech by the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Development Agency for France (AFD), KfW Entwicklungsbank (KfW) and MASEN, promoter of the Ouarzazate solar complex in Morocco. This loan package was facilitated by a €30m grant contribution from the European Union in December 2011.

This European financing is supporting the first phase of the Ouarzazate solar complex, which involves the construction of a parabolic-trough concentrated solar power (CSP) plant with a gross installed capacity of between 125 and 160 MW and a minimum energy storage capacity of 3 hours. The project will be the first under the Moroccan Solar Plan and the largest project so far under the Mediterranean Solar Plan, whose aim is to deploy 20 GW of additional renewable energy capacity by 2020.

The Ouarzazate solar complex aims to reach a potential capacity of 500 MW, which is equivalent to powering a city of 1,500,000 inhabitants. Once fully developed, this solar complex will be one of the largest in the world. In its first phase alone, it will avoid the emission of 110,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year while developing renewable energy and energy security in Morocco, as well as creating jobs and promoting an integrated local solar industry.

EIB Vice-President Philippe de Fontaine Vive commented: “As the lead European financial institution on this project, the EIB is proud to contribute both its financing and its technical expertise acquired across Europe for all sources of renewable energy. The first phase of Ouarzazate is a milestone for the success of the Mediterranean Solar Plan in the region. It provides a strong and green signal for the future in terms of technology, economic and energy development, and job opportunities.”

The Ambassador Head of the EU Delegation to Morocco Eneko Landaburu said: “The EU and Morocco share similar opportunities and constraints when it comes to energy, which makes it important to support the progressive integration of our respective energy markets, as well as the joint development of renewable energy. Today, through the grant provided by its Neighbourhood Investment Facility and the loan provided by the European Investment Bank, the European Union is strongly supporting the first flagship project under the Moroccan Solar Plan.”

“The implementation of this power plant will enable the breakthrough of low-carbon and climate-friendly technology in Morocco. At the same time, the country can reduce its dependence on energy imports. With this power plant we are coming a big step closer to realising the ambitious energy plan of supplying many of the Northern African countries with renewable energies,” said Dr Norbert Kloppenburg, Member of the Executive Board of KfW.

The project is in line with the objectives of European Union and the strategic objectives of the FEMIP mandate in terms of environmental sustainability and climate change mitigation in relation to energy demand.

The first phase of the Ouarzazate solar complex will be operational in 2015.

*European support:

– EIB: €100m of a total of €300m (EIB Board approval on 13 December 2011)

– EU: €30m (grant)

– AFD: €100m

– KfW/Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ): €100m

– KfW Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU): €15m

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