The World Bank is the implementing agency for a $750-million grant by the Clean Technology Fund to the Middle East and North Africa Concentrated Solar Power Scale Up Program, part of which is financing the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant in Ouarzazate, in eastern Morocco. The Ain Beni Mathar plant is also being financed by a $43.2 million grant from the Global Environment Facility, as well as credits 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 plant, which is now supplying electricity to the Moroccan grid, is a pilot project that 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 plant produces low-carbon solar electricity, and is at once creating jobs and helping to expand the skill base in Morocco to construct and operate such facilities. Its will pave the way for the deployment of a pipeline of solar energy projects in Morocco and across North Africa.
The plant is part of the Moroccan government’s Solar Plan, launched in November 2009, which aims to produce 2000 MW of solar electricity by 2020. This replaces the high-carbon coal-fired electricity of the past, and will create a new source of income for Morocco, as the plan calls for export of solar electricity to markets in Europe.
The World Bank will continue supporting 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 400 MW solar plant next to the Ain Beni Mathar plant (to be commissioned in 2016), a 500 MW plant in Foum Al Ouad (to be commissioned in 2017), a 500 MW plant in Boujdour (to be commissioned in 2018) and a 100 MW plant to be commissioned in Sebkhat Tah (to be commissioned in 2019).