Concentrated solar power in Morocco

Morocco has excluded a group led by Egypt-based Orascom Construction Industries from the bidding for the first phase of a major concentrating solar thermal project, l’Economiste newspaper reported on Friday.

The newspaper gave no reason for the exclusion and a spokeswoman for Masen, the government agency managing the solar thermal project, declined to comment.

Quoting sources familiar with the plan, l’Economiste said Masen would select a winner within a few weeks from the three remaining consortiums it selected in December, 2010.

The 500 megawatt Concentrating Solar Power project, in the southern region of Ouarzazate, is the first of five in a $9 billion solar energy program that will account for 38 percent of Morocco’s installed power generation capacity by 2020.

The plan is vital to a country without its own oil or gas and which aims to diversify its exports to an energy-hungry trade partner, the European Union.

The four consortiums selected to bid for the design, finance, construction, operation and maintenance of a thermal solar plant in Ouarzazate were: Abeinsa ICI, Abengoa Solar, Mitsui and Abu Dhabi National Energy Co.; Enel and ACS SCE; International Company for Water and Power, Aries IS and TSK EE; Orascom Construction Industries, Solar Millennium and Evonik Steag.

The Ouarzazate Concentrating Solar Power project is to start as a 125 megawatt unit and undergo gradual upgrades to 500 MW by the end of 2015.