KfW Bankengruppe, a German public lender, signed on Tuesday a loan of 100 million euros for the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) in order to build its first major solar thermal power plant. The agreement was signed in the presence of the Moroccan king.
As reported in a statement by KfW, the future plant will be built next to the city of Ouarzazate in central Morocco and will have a capacity of 160 megawatts. With additional plants in the future, this capacity could be increased to 500 megawatts.
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The project has a total cost of about 750 million euros, of which Germany has contributed 115 million, adding to the contribution of KfW, which signed the loan by order of the Ministry of Cooperation, and the 15 million from the Ministry of Environment.
The European Commission, the European Investment Bank, the French Development Agency, the World Bank and the African Development Bank are also financially involved in the initiative.
KfW said it was prepared for a greater commitment to MASEN if Morocco finally decides to extend this solar thermal power plant.
"By constructing this power plant Morocco is providing a breakthrough for a low-carbon and climate-friendly future technology, while simultaneously reducing the country's high dependence on energy imports. The ambitious energy plans of many North African countries towards a supply system based on renewable energies are now another step closer to being realised," said Dr Norbert Kloppenburg, member of the Executive Board of KfW Bankengruppe.
The plant will generate electricity for 530,000 people and prevent the emission of 310,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year, which is the amount expelled into the atmosphere by "conventional means” of energy production in producing the same amount of energy.
KfW added in a statement that the German support is an important contribution to the expansion of renewable energy in Morocco. Just as German support served to fund several wind power plants and harness the tremendous wind potential of Morocco, Germany is now trying to support efforts to exploit potential solar thermal energy, stated KfW.
Morocco plans to expand the share of renewable sources of energy in total electricity production to 25% by 2020. At the start of the decade, 15% came from renewable sources. As a result, the country has increased investment in wind and solar energy. For example, there are at least five new wind projects in Morocco that will eventually produce 850MW of electricity.
Morocco is also taking advantage of its large desert areas to produce solar energy. Last year, it received a 100 million euro loan to generate 2,000MW of electricity by 2020. Morocco already contains a solar thermal power plant in Ain Beni Mathar that generates electricity from a combination of natural gas and solar panels. The plant produces 420MW, of which 20% is from the solar panels.