North African and Middle East Countries Poised to Upgrade Concentrated Solar Power Use with AfDB, World Bank, and CIF Support

On March 19, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and World Bank convened a workshop with representatives of Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia in Rabat, Morocco to review and upgrade the region’s path-breaking regional Investment Plan for Concentrated Solar Power (CSP), with funding from the Climate Investment Funds (CIF).

The workshop presented an important opportunity for the five countries to discuss ways to deepen their effective use of CSP as a means to transform their national and regional energy paths, with support from their development partners.

In 2009, recognizing their region’s enormous potential for tapping into CSP, they had agreed on an unprecedented Investment Plan for regional CSP development to generate 1 Gigawatt (GW) power and triple worldwide capacity, and had received a commitment for $750 million by the CIF’s Clean Technology Fund (CTF).

The Investment Plan was designed around deployment of about 10-12 commercial scale power plants to be constructed over a 3-5 year time frame. Now, in light of subsequent political and technological developments in the region, the countries and their partners have come together again to update and revise the Plan to better suit their countries’ current circumstances and consider advances in solar technology.

In the workshop, participants met in four sessions to consider:

  • Current CSP developments in Morocco: as the most advanced program now underway, slated to generate 2000 Megawatts (MW) solar power by 2020
  • A review of the costs and benefits of CSP: including examination of different types of solar technologies; storage level and impact on load factors; value in terms of kWh; CSP hybridization; benefits such as job creation and environmental impacts; and potential for future cost reductions
  • Status of the technology and comparison with Concentrated Photovoltaic (CPV) : including consideration of the market for CPV; whether CPV meets CTF criteria; and comparison of CSP and CPV status in the region, where CSP has reached 2.3 GW and PV 100 GW
  • The role of exports and the need for grants in the scaled-up program: including considerations regarding the impact on Spain’s current exports of electricity to Morocco; the status of the Euro-Maghreb market; and the need for upgrading the North African grid
  • Country-specific inputs into the updated plan: identifying each country’s need for changes, including the need for greater technical assistance to countries as a key element of the plan.

At the end of the workshop, participants agreed to the following set of next steps:

  • Incorporating the additional comments in the MENA CSP Investment Plan
  • Internal validation of the Revised Investment Plan by AfDB and WB
  • Presentation of the report to the CTF Trust Fund Committee on May 2, 2013