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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 October 2018

Acwa wins €1.7bn Moroccan solar power deals

The company and its Spanish partner Sener submitted the lowest bid to win the award from the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy to construct two concentrated solar power plants totalling 300 megawatts.

Riyadh-based Acwa Power has won a €1.7 billion (Dh7.37bn) contract for two solar power projects in Morocco, edging out competitors including Abu Dhabi’s Masdar and Spain’s Abengoa.

The Saudi Arabian company and its Spanish partner Sener submitted the lowest bid to win the award from the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen) to construct two concentrated solar power (CSP) plants totalling 300 megawatts as part of the Noor CSP complex in Ouarzazate in the south central of the country.

The Noor II is a 200MW project and the Noor III is a 100MW project.

Acwa had the lowest bid for the Noor II, while Abengoa came in with the lowest bid for the Noor III. But Paddy Padmanathan, the president and chief executive of Acwa, said its combined offer was about 11 per cent lower than the competing consortia. A Masdar spokesman said that because of contractual obligations with Masen, it was unable to issue a comment on the Noor II and Noor III bidding process.

Acwa and its partners in South Africa are involved with the Bokpoort CSP project, which will be ready this year. The scheme will supply 50MW of power to the state-owned utility Eskom.

In December, it emerged that Acwa had bid 5.98 US cents per kilowatt hour for the 100MW- Phase 2 of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai.

The bid submitted to Dubai Electricity and Water Authority for the photovoltaic (PV) project was much lower than its competitors that included Spain’s Fotowatio and Masdar. In addition, Acwa bid for the overall 1,000MW that the project will ultimately produce at a tariff of 5.4 cents over a 25-year power purchase agreement — the lowest tariff quoted for a solar PV project in the world.

Between 2012 and 2013, the average cost of solar installations dropped by as much as 15 per cent, according to a report by the US-based National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Prices were expected to drop a further 3 per cent for 2014, but official figures have not been released.

The Middle East Solar Industry Association said that in the past year there had been an increase in regional solar projects, particularly solar PV because of falling prices. As a result solar projects totalling 287MW were awarded in the region last year compared to only 70MW over the previous seven years until 2013.

Meanwhile, Acwa said that it would open an office in Abu Dhabi and plans to bid for projects throughout the UAE.

“We’ll bid for whatever projects are being put out by Adwea and Dewa — no question,” Mr Padmanathan said.

lgraves@thenational.ae