Climate Investment Funds Give North Africa and Middle East Green Light for Revised Regional Solar Plan

The US $7.6 billion Climate Investment Funds (CIF) gave the go-ahead on Friday, May 3, to Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia to proceed with an updated version of a sweeping plan to create an unprecedented 1,120 megawatts (MW) of energy from Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) for the region.

The plan will receive US $660 million from the CIF’s Clean Technology Fund (CTF) and is expected to leverage nearly US $5 billion from other donors and private financing.

The plan, first endorsed by the CIF in 2009, has undergone post-Arab Spring changes by each country to reflect the political and economic conditions in the region and to build on emerging lessons from the plan’s first project now underway – the Ouarzazate I 160 MW plant in Morocco.

The revised plan accepted today by the CIF governing body provides a realignment of projects in the pipeline based on each country’s reassessed needs; focuses on well-performing projects as a stronger measure of the plan’s positive impact; and expands the plan’s horizons to also include Concentrated Solar Photovoltaic (CPV) technologies and business models including public sector, public-private partnerships (PPPs), and independent power producers (IPPs).

The original plan projected a total of 895 MW of power, but with the revision the region now expects to achieve 1.12 GW, making it the most ambitious CSP program in the world. The countries have also agreed to request a smaller funding envelope from the original US $750 million to US $660 million including currently funded projects.

“The changes suggested by the countries in the plan make it a more viable and flexible plan which takes into account the realities each of these countries face,” stated Mafalda Duarte, AfDB coordinator for the Bank’s CIF program. “We can all look to this revised plan as both a signal of hope for the forward economic and social movement in the region built on renewable energy, and a more realistic blueprint for the evolution of renewables as a potent engine of power globally.”

The plan is also adding a technical assistance (TA) component to complement efforts at the project level and establish a critical platform for knowledge exchange and increase private sector involvement and regional integration.

President Mustapha Bakkoury of the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN), who presented the revised plan to the governing body, emphasized to the CIF that, “We are looking forward to seeing more involvement by this kind of financing in the coming years, and hope it will help continue the dynamism of the solar power sector and its competitiveness with wind and other energy sources, including fossil fuels.”

CTF allocations in the revised plan are:

Morocco: CTF US $218M for 300 MW (Ouarzazate II)

Egypt: CTF US $123M for 100 MW (Kom Ombo)

Tunisia: CTFUS $62M for 50 MW (Akarit) (may increase to 100)

Jordan: CTF US $50M for up to 100 MW including CPV

Technical assistance: CTF US $10M

For further information on the CIF projects supported by the AfDB, please visit “Financing Change: the AfDB and CIF for a Climate-Smart Africa”.