Breakdown at Saudi concentrated solar power plant in Morocco costs firm $47 million

Saudi Arabian renewable energy utility ACWA Power International on Sunday reported a storage breakdown at one of the solar power plants it operates in Morocco that will cost the company an estimated $47 million.

The 150-megawatt plant, part of the Noor Ouarzazate solar complex, will be forced to remain idle until November 2024, the company said on the website of the Saudi Stock exchange.

The breakdown highlights the recurrence of technical issues and storage breakdowns at the concentrating solar power (CSP) plant. Technical problems stopped all output there for a year from summer 2021, two sources told Reuters last month.

The company said it will repair the storage issue and was also mulling building a new storage tank.

In a 2020 report, Morocco’s economic, social, and environmental council recommended abandoning CSP altogether due to its high cost compared to photovoltaic and wind energy.

Morocco aims for renewables to represent 52% of installed capacity by 2030 from 37.6% now, mostly through investments in solar and wind plants.

It is already falling behind on solar, with only 831 megawatts (MW) installed so far, compared to the 2,000 MW that was planned for by 2020. Wind power has made up some of the shortfall but polluting coal plants still make up most output.

Reporting by Ahmed El Jechtimi and Pesha Magid; Editing by Ros Russell. Reuters Power

Morocco’s concentrated solar power plant plans delayed due to a dispute over the technology used

Morocco’s plan to construct a massive concentrated solar power plant, Noor Midelt I, has encountered delays due to disagreements over the technology to be employed, as reported by Reuters on Tuesday.

Three sources close to the project informed the British news agency, emphasizing that the delay arises from a disagreement between the government and the project developer regarding the type of solar technology to utilize.

This delay has impacted the project, with only 831 megawatts (MW) installed thus far, compared to the anticipated 2,000 MW by 2020. «Construction has not even commenced on the planned $2 billion 800 MW Noor Midelt I plant, which was intended to commence operations this year, after the Energy Ministry and grid operator ONEE rejected the proposed CSP technology», stated the sources.

The contract for developing Noor Midelt I was awarded to the state energy agency MASEN in 2019, entrusted to a consortium led by EDF Renouvelables. The project involves a combination of two technologies : photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP). However, ONEE and the Energy Ministry expressed reservations regarding the reliability of CSP due to issues encountered at another large solar plant in Morocco, Noor Ouarzazate. These concerns prompted lengthy discussions and ultimately delayed the project’s progress, the same sources added.

Despite both parties remaining committed to the project, specifics regarding the chosen technology and project timeline are still being finalized.

Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi, editing by Angus McDowall and David Evans