November 2010 – The Concentrated Solar Power plant of Ain Beni Mathar is now supplying electricity to the Moroccan grid. Located in the East of Morocco near the Algerian border, it will provide numerous lessons for further diffusion of concentrated solar power technology.
This plant uses a cutting edge design, combining a large array of 224 parabolic mirror collectors concentrating sun energy and boosting the steam output needed to produce electricity in this 470MW facility. Two other plants with similar design will soon be commissioned in Egypt and Algeria.
The Ain Beni Mathar plant provides solar electricity produced with low CO2 emissions. The plant will also help expand the skill base in Morocco to construct and operate such facilities. The plant created dozens of new jobs and supports the local economy.
Morocco is accelerating investment in several options to expand a low carbon economy, including energy efficiency measures, wind electricity and low emissions public transport solutions.
The success of the Ain Beni Mathar Concentrated Solar Power plant will pave the way for the deployment of a pipeline of solar energy projects in Morocco.
The Government of Morocco announced the Moroccan Solar Plan in November 2009, targeting 2000MW of additional solar electricity production capacity by 2020 and created the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy to help mobilize investments. The Agency launched the development of the first plant under the Plan, the 500 MW Ouarzazate plant, with a call for expressions of interest in March 2010, followed by a bidders’ pre-qualification in July 2010. The Request for Proposal to investors in a Public-Private-Partnership to develop the plant will be issued before the end of 2010. Commissioning of the plant is planned for 2014-15.
The Ouarzazate plant is an integral component of the Middle East and North Africa Concentrated solar Scale up Investment Plan, for which the Clean Technology Fund approved a $750 million contribution in December 2009.
The Ain Beni Mathar plant was financed by a $43.2 million grant from the Global Environment Facility, with the World Bank as an implementing agency. This grant was complemented using loans from the African Development Bank, the Instituto de Credito Official (Spain) and equity from the Moroccan state-owned utility Office National de l'Electricité (ONE).
The World Bank will continue supporting the Government of Morocco’s efforts to promote solar energy as a central component of its electricity supply and a global contribution to a low carbon economy. Other plants identified as part of this plan include a new 400MW solar plant next to the Ain Beni Mathar plant (to be commissioned in 2016), a 500MW plant in Foum Al Ouad (to be commissioned in 2017), a 500MW plant in Boujdour (to be commissioned in 2018) and a 100MW plant to be commissioned in Sebkhat Tah (to be commissioned in 2019).