Morocco to double wind capacity -- Government approves 60 MW

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The Moroccan government has given the go ahead for a 60 MW wind power plant at Essaouira on the country's Atlantic coast. The project was developed by the state utility, Office National de l'Electricité (ONE), as part of a national strategy to diversify Morocco's energy resources, with particular regard to renewables. Spain's Gamesa has been selected to construct the plant following an international competitive tender process (Windpower Monthly, November 2005). Gamesa will supply the 71, 850 kW turbines and be responsible for operation and maintenance. Completion is scheduled for 2007.

The site is at Cap Sim, 15 kilometres south of Essaouira, in one of the country's windiest areas where average wind speeds reach 8.9 metres a second. Annual generation is estimated at 210 GWh. The project will cost around MAD 790 million (EUR 75.5 million). German development bank KfW is providing EUR 50 million under a bilateral financial cooperation initiative, of which EUR 25 million is in the form of a loan concession. ONE will stump up the remaining EUR 25.5 million.

The project recently qualified for Clean Development Mechanism status under the Kyoto Protocol (Windpower Monthly, December 2005). It will allow the government savings of an estimated 48,000 tonnes of oil and a reduction in carbon gas emissions of 156,000 tonnes a year. ONE is hoping the plant will qualify for Certified Emission Reductions (CERs), which are used to offset emission reduction obligations. Since electricity produced at Essaouira will cost slightly above market rates, ONE plans to sell the CERs to offset the additional expenditure. The government launched a prequalification call for tender in August to companies wishing to buy the certificates.

With Iberdrola

In a separate move, ONE has also clinched an agreement with Spanish utility Iberdrola for development of wind power and combined cycle plant in Morocco. The agreement is initially for five years with an option to renew. A joint committee will meet at least three times a year to study possible projects, of which the first will be a 70 MW wind plant at Touahar, near Taza in northern Morocco. The two will co-develop projects through a mix of direct investment, partnerships and other forms of association. They will also exchange information and technical assistance.

The Touahar 70 MW will probably not be scheduled until after the anticipated liberalisation of the Moroccan electricity market in 2007, since the current law does not allow for direct investment without a call for tenders.

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