ACWA wins $2bn contract for Morocco solar plant

Saudi firm continues hot streak with deal for another project in Ouarzazate.

A parabolic trough CSP plant
A parabolic trough CSP plant

A consortium led by Saudi Arabia's ACWA Power International has won a EUR 1.7bn ($2bn) contract to build two concentrated solar power (CSP) plants in Morocco.

The plants totalling 350 megawatts (MW) are the second phase Ouarzazate project in the southern Moroccan city of the same name, the Reuters news agency said quoting a statement by the Moroccan solar energy agency (Masen).

ACWA Power is already building a 160 MW plant in the first stage of the project.

The winning consortium, which includes Spain's Sener, offered 1.36 dirhams ($0.15) per kilowatt (KWh) for the first 200 MW plant with parabolic mirror technology, while it priced the plant with solar power tower technology at 1.42 dirhams per KWh.

Consortiums led by Spain's Abengoa, GDF's International Power and ACWA Power were pre-selected for the 200 MW (Noor II) tender.

The three groups were also pre-qualified for the 150 MW (Noor III) tender, along with another consortium led by Electricite de France (EDF).

Sources told Reuters that consortiums led by ACWA and Abengoa have bid the lowest to build the two plants.

If Masen decides to combine the bids for the two plants, the ACWA bids overall would beat Abengoa's, the sources added.

The plants, which are scheduled to start generating power in 2017, are part of a government plan to produce 2 gigawatts (GW) of solar power by 2020, equivalent to about 38% of Morocco's current installed power generation capacity.

To finance the plants, Morocco has secured loans of $519mn from the World Bank, $654mn euros from German state-owned bank KfW and the rest from the African Development Bank (AfDB), the European Commission and European Investment Bank (EIB).

Coupled with a multi-billion dollar wind energy development scheme, the solar development plan should reduce Morocco's annual imports of fossil fuels by 2.5 million tonnes of oil equivalent and prevent emissions of 9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Masen is expected to announce the two next solar plants, which would be located in Midelt (central) and Tata (south) towns with an estimated 500 MW each.


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