The Noor Ouarzazate solar power complex harnesses the potential of the most abundant source of energy in North Africa – the sun. Thanks to the support of the EU and the EIB, among others, Morocco has started its own path towards becoming a sustainable-energy country. Noor Ouarzazate is a hands-on example of how the COP21 agreement is being converted into COP22 actions.
Noor Ouarzazate is one of the biggest solar power complexes in the world. Once completed, it will have over 580 MW installed capacity and provide electricity to 350 000 homes in Morocco. The plant is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 760,000 tons per year, and 17.5 million tons over 25 years.
Currently, Morocco imports over 97% of its energy, much of it in the form of oil, which makes it very vulnerable to volatile fuel costs. The Noor Ouarzazate solar power complex is expected to reverse the situation: it will produce carbon-free energy equivalent to that from 2.5 million tons of imported oil, even creating the potential for green exports to neighbouring countries. It will also boost employment and create a local solar industry as part of the process.
EU support came through the Neighbouring Investment Facility (NIF) which granted EUR 106.5 million to for the Noor Ouarzazate complex. The NIF is an innovative instrument created to co-finance infrastructure projects in EU neighbouring countries and helped catalyse the participation of the EIB, which finances EUR 217.5 million for the three first phases and other investors such as the French Agency for Development (AFD) as well as the German Development Bank (KfW). In total, European funds amount to up to 60% of the project cost.
This is the biggest operation under the EU-supported “Mediterranean Solar Plan”. This plan aims to create additional renewable energy capacity of over 20 GW by 2020 in the Mediterranean partner countries.
Noor Ouarzazate also reflects Morocco’s energy ambitious. The country aims to generate more than half of its power from sustainable energy sources by 2030. Morocco’s renewable energy mix would combine solar, wind and hydro power, with each accounting for 14% of the total mix by 2020.