Morocco gets $895m German loan for solar plants

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(Photo for illustrative purpose only)

(Photo for illustrative purpose only)

Morocco has secured a €654m ($895m) loan from German state-owned bank KFW to part-finance two solar power plants totalling 300 megawatts worth an estimated €1.7bn, banking sources said.

Tenders for construction of the two plants, one of 200 megawatts (MW) and the other of 100 MW, near the southern city of Ouarzazate are expected in the next weeks, Mustapha Bakoury, the head of Morocco's solar energy agency Masen, said on Wednesday at the Desertec industrial initiative (Dii) Conference held outside Rabat.

Masen said consortia led by Spain's Abengoa, GDF's International Power and ACWA Power had been pre-selected for the 200 MW (Noor II) tender.

The three groups are also pre-qualified for the 100 MW (Noor III) tender, along with another consortium led by France's EDF .

The authority has chosen parabolic mirror technology for the 200 MW concentrated solar plant with a contract estimated at €1bn, while the 100 MW plant, expected to reach €700m, will be built as a solar power tower.

The sources added that KFW will lend 330 million euros for Noor II, and 324 million euros for Noor III.

KFW would be by far the largest lender to the second phase of Ouarzazate 500 MW project, the sources said.

Saudi Arabia's ACWA Power is already building the first 160 MW plant in the Ouarzazate area under a government initiative to produce 2 gigawatts of solar power by 2020, which is equivalent to about 38 percent of Morocco's current installed generation capacity.

Morocco is expecting to get around €300m from the World Bank and about the same from the African Development Bank and from the European Investment Bank, as well as other smaller loans from the World Bank's Clean Technology Fund, the French Development Agency and the European Union to seal the contracts financing.

Sources added that all the lenders would give the necessary funding, although this had not yet been announced.

Asked by Reuters, Bakoury said financing details would be given with the launch of tenders.

Morocco is spending heavily to subsidise power production. It currently imports power from Spain with demand growing by around 7 percent year.

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