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[…] Developing North African solar markets
In the Middle Eastern and North African region (Mena), the solar plans are growing in number in these years. These plans are backed by programs of industrial integration in order to increase their profitability.
The most advanced is the Moroccan solar Plan which calculates to install 2 gigawatt (GW) by 2020, 160 MW of which will be coming from the site of Ouarzazate in 2014 for the first stage of the project.
By 2030, Tunisia plans 1.76 GW. Algeria, on its account, counts on 12 GW. Whereas Saudi Arabia would like to reach 41 GW of solar energy within the next twenty years .
While the cost of producing solar energy is not yet at the same level as conventional types of energy, the cost of the technologies employed, particularly concentrated solar power (CSP), is predicted to decrease substantially in the next thirty years.
The CSP technology is preferred over others because of its widespread testing, especially in the USA, and also because it allows to stock solar energy. Concentrated-solar technology systems use mirrors or lenses with tracking systems to concentrate sunlight and create sufficient heat to generate steam. This is then used to activate turbines and alternators thus producing energy.
The profitability of solar energy should also increase thanks to exports towards Europe. This continent is, in fact, aiming at reducing by 80% its emission of greenhouse gases by 2050 (in comparison to 1990). Exports will go through Morocco, which is the only country connected to Europe through Spain, thanks to two cables of 400 KV. A third line of 700 MW with Spain is also being considered. It will allow to take the power of exchange to 2100 MW.
At the same time, the generous financing granted by the financial backers to stimulate the sector will gradually decrease. « Nowadays, different countries are racing to gain a leading position in the market », says Silvia Pariente-David, energy specialist at the World Bank for the Middle East and North Africa. Among these counties: the United States, China, India, South Africa…and also Morocco.
Ouarzazate : the results of the tender is imminent
The results of the tender for the construction of the first phase of the project for the solar power plant in Ouarzazate are about to be released. « It’s a matter of days », assure Mustapha Bakkoury, President of the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen).
Three groups have been selected to build this CSP power plant: the Spanish Abeinsa Ingeneria, the Italian Enel and the Saudi Arabian Acwa Power International.
«The issue with solar power is to do with reducing costs through the optimisation of investment», stresses the President of Masen.
300 hectars next to the power plant will be dedicated to research and development. Some experimental prototypes will be tested on the grounds. (…)
Eventually, the second phase of Ouarzazate will involve the implementation of 50 MW of photovoltaic energy and 300 MW CSP (with 50 MW at least for the CSP technology).
In this context, a new structure has come to life: the Arabic Platform for Renewable Energy and Energetic Efficiency (APFREEE). Its goal is to: start and develop cooperation, transfer knowledge and know-how between governmental agencies, the Minister of Energy, enterprises, universities etc., in order to contribute to the development of the solar power sector in the area.