The 200-300MW Tarfaya wind plant, on the Atlantic coast, is to be operated under a build, operate and transfer contract in line with a 20-year power purchase agreement with Moroccan state utility Office National d'Electricite (ONE).
In 2007, ONE invited tenders for the wind farm. Sixteen companies made it through the prequalification round (Windpower Monthly, November 2007). But, come May 2009, the only two final bids were submitted by Nareva Holding, a subsidiary of Moroccan industrial, financial and services conglomerate ONA in partnership with Britain's International Power; and France-based energy giant GDF Suez (Windpower Monthly, August 2009).
The date for the final decision has been pushed back several times. "Tarfaya is a very big and difficult project," says project manager Latifa Chaguer. "Many people have to be consulted."
While there is still no official announcement, progress is being made.
ONE, in cooperation with a high-level interministerial committee, is now in negotiation with Nareva and International Power on the price, completion date and other details. The utility says it has not opened GDF Suez's commercial bid, but is unable to explain why for reasons of confidentiality.
Nareva and International Power are said to have fully committed funding from Morocco's Attijariwafa Bank and the local subsidiary of France's Banque Populaire. Debt will reportedly cover up to 75% of the project's costs. ONE was again unable to comment.
All is not lost for the French group, however. If GDF Suez did lose the bidding war, this might only be a temporary setback. The group is currently in negotiations to take a majority stake in International Power.
The Tarfaya contract would put Nareva well on the road to meeting its target of at least 300MW of installed wind capacity by 2012 (Windpower Monthly, September 2008).
The company is already building a 102MW plant at Akhfenir, on the Atlantic coast 100 kilometres east of Tarfaya, due to start turning next year. France-based energy multinational Alstom is supplying the turbines. The plant is phase one of what will eventually be a 200MW facility, developed under the Moroccan government's EnergiPro initiative, which encourages industrial customers to produce their own renewable energy.