Acwa breaks ground on $220m Morocco PV plant

3 April 2017

Saudi-based water and power developer Acwa Power has broken ground on its ambitious Noor Ouarzazate IV photo voltaic power (PV) generation plant, which boasts a 72 MW capacity.

King Mohammed VI of Morocco chaired the ground breaking ceremony of the plant which will be built at a total cost of $220 million.

The project comes as part of the first phase of Photo Voltaic Power (PV) generation plants of the Noor Solar Plan. It is likely to be completed by the end of April 2018.

An agreement was signed in November last year at COP22 at Marrakech by a consortium led by Acwa Power to develop and operate the plant.

The Saudi group was selected through an international tender and will, in collaboration with the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (Masen) and the Chint Group, be responsible for the development, construction and long term operation of Ouarzazate plant under a Boot (Build, Operate, Own and Transfer) scheme.

The levelized electricity tariff of $4.797¢/kWh (MAD 0.46/kWh) at which the contract has been awarded is one of the most competitive tariffs compared to the lowest contracted anywhere else in the world taking into account equalizing factors such as terms of contract and location and country specific factors, said the statement from Acwa Power.

A consortium of Sterling & Wilson, Shapoorji Pallonji and Chint Solar will undertake the delivery of the facilities under a delivery, procurement and construction contract, on behalf of the sponsors.

In addition to its role as off-taker of the generated energy and one of three shareholders in the Project owning company, Masen is acting as the sole lender to the Project owning company, it stated.

The program forms part of the Noor Solar Plan, which aims to develop a combined solar capacity of approximately two Gigawatt (2 GW) by 2020 to meet the growing energy demand of the country.

Acwa Power chairman Mohammad Abunayyan said: "We are proud to be entrusted with yet another component of this ambitious target of Morocco’s visionary sustainable energy strategy."

"Just as in the case of the three Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant development projects at the Noor Solar Complex at Ouarzazate, this program will not only focus on the delivery of green electricity at a low-cost, but it will also deliver on the  strategy of employment creation and economic development from renewable energy capacity deployment," he noted.

Acwa Power president and CEO Paddy Padmanathan said: "Acwa Power cherishes the trust of the government of Morocco through its renewable energy agency Masen to expand its investments in the kingdom to deliver significant renewable energy capacity at pace setting tariff levels in support of the country’s unwavering commitment to decarbonize electricity generation without compromising the social and economic development of the Kingdom."

Further commenting on the program, chief investment officer of Acwa Power, Rajit Nanda said: "As Acwa Power continues to expand its international portfolio, we are truly privileged to participate in a country like Morocco and partner with an agency like Masen with visionary world class leadership committed to doing what is best not just for themselves but for the future generations of the people of entire planet."

"And as such we feel immense pride in when milestones such as this inauguration drive forward clean energy ambition," he added.