x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Masdar to explore renewable opportunities in Morocco

Masdar and Morocco have signed a framework agreement that paves the way for investment into the North African country's burgeoning renewable energy sector.

Masdar and Morocco have signed a framework agreement that paves the way for investment into the North African country's burgeoning renewable energy sector.

"We look forward to contributing to the development of Morocco's renewable energy industry," said Sultan Al Jaber, Masdar's chief executive, who signed the agreement with Fouad Douiri, the Moroccan energy minister.

Masdar, Mubadala's clean energy subsidiary, is growing its international portfolio, and is keen to expand into the North African country, the company has confirmed.

"Morocco is among Masdar's target markets. The framework agreement will offer an avenue to explore potential opportunities to develop renewable energy projects in Morocco," said Bader Al Lamki, the director of Masdar Clean Energy.

Blessed with an abundance of wind and sunshine, Morocco plans to generate 42 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

It has already awarded a tender for the 160 megawatts (MW) Quarzazate solar plant to Saudi Arabia's Acwa Power, and a second tender for an additional 300MW at the site is imminent.

All in all, Morocco hopes to draw on 6,000MW of solar, wind and hydropower before the decade is out. Foreign investment is a key plank of the programme.

"The development of renewables has many pillars. One of those is international cooperation," said Mr Douiri last week at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, where the agreement was signed.

"Masdar's portfolio of regional and international projects, combined with their experience in renewable energy project development and research and development activities, makes it a partner of excellence," added the minister.

Unlike some of its neighbours, Morocco does not have significant hydrocarbon resources to exploit, and alternative energies are important in meeting growing demand for electricity.

The country's renewables potential also allows it to plan for electricity exports to Europe, and such exports could become a substantial money spinner in future.

Masdar, which is tasked with implementing Abu Dhabi's target of generating 7 per cent of its electricity from renewables by 2020, boasts a growing domestic and international energy portfolio.

It is the majority owner of the 100MW Shams-1 solar plant near Madinat Zayed. Shams-1 will be completed this year, and become the largest concentrated solar power plant in the region. Masdar also holds a minority stake in the London Array, the world's largest offshore wind farm.

Morocco already has 1,000MW of wind power projects operational or under construction. A tender for an additional four farms able to generate 850MW will be launched in March, according to Mr Douiri.

The ministry will issue a call for interest for the second phase of the Quarzazate project next month, he added.

 

fneuhof@thenational.ae