French group to build 800MW solar thermal + PV project in Morocco

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Consortium led by French utility EDF tapped to build landmark Noor Midelt I project, combining concentrated solar with PV generation, and minimum 5hrs thermal storage.

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The Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy has awarded the rights to build the landmark Noor Midelt I solar project, an 800MW hybrid project combining concentrated solar power project with photovoltaic generation, and a minimum of five hours of thermal storage, to a consortium led by French company EDF.

The winning consortium – led by EDF through its EDF Renewables subsidiary, and including UAE-based renewable energy company Masdar and Moroccan independent power producer Green of Africa – expects to begin construction of the US$782 million/AU$1.1 billion  hybrid solar project in the last quarter of the year, with power being fed into the grid in 2022.

The hybrid nature of the project is intended to increase the plant’s output beyond daylight hours, utilising the dispatchable and competitively-priced electricity from the concentrated solar power (CSP) section of the project, which is expected to provide up to five hours of stored electricity.

Consisting of two CSP plants of 190 MW each, and two photovoltaic (PV) plants of around 210 MW each, the project will sell its electricity to the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) under a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).

Located 20 kilometres north of the Moroccan town of Midelt, in the country’s centre, the Noor Midelt I project is described by EDF as “a key milestone” in the country’s efforts to generate 52% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

“EDF Renewables, Masdar, and Green of Africa would like to thank the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy and the King of Morocco for having designated our consortium as the successful bidder to develop the innovative NoorMidelt I with an installed capacity of 800 MW hybrid concentrated solar power and photovoltaic power plant,” the consortium members said in a press release.

“The consortium is fully committed to supporting MASEN and the realization of Morocco’s long-term renewable energy ambitions.”

“At Masen, we are quite satisfied with the results of this tender and confident in the capacities of the group selected to carry out this project,” added Mustapha Bakkoury, CEO of MASEN, speaking in a press release translated from French, who went on to describe the project as “technologically disruptive.”

According to MASEN, the project was awarded at a per-kilowatt-hour (kWh) price of 0.68 Moroccan dirhams – equivalent to US$0.07/kWh and AU$0.10/kWh.

Plans for construction are already well underway and a 40-kilometre road has already been built to support the project. Further, this road will not only service construction and operation of the project but has the added benefit of providing greater access to nearby villages.

Similarly, 50 kilometres of medium-voltage power lines have also been completed. All of the work done has been completed by Moroccan companies.

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