Strong incentives for own generation -- Morocco's 1000 MW program

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Morocco doubled its installed wind power capacity in 2007 with the inauguration of 60 MW of Gamesa turbines at Essaouira on the Atlantic coast, bringing the national total to 124 MW (table). The development was the first to come on line under Morocco's ambitious "Initiative 1000 MW" plan announced last year, which sets a target of 10% of energy needs from renewable resources by 2012. The bulk of this will probably come from wind.

Next in line is a 140 MW installation currently under construction near Tangier in northern Morocco, due to start turning in 2009. Gamesa was selected to build and operate the plant, which is being financed by the Spanish government, the European Investment Bank and Germany's development bank KfW, while the state utility, the National Office of Electricity (ONE), is putting up an equity stake.

One small plant should come on line this year. Taking advantage of a change in the law which raises the size limit on plant autonomous producers can build from 10 MW to 50 MW, the cement company Lafarge Maroc is adding five Gamesa 2 MW turbines to its 10.2 MW station at its Tetouan factory. In similar vein, Ciments du Maroc, 53.2% owned by Italy's Italcementi Group, is developing a 50 MW project beside its factory at Laayoune for completion in 2009. In both cases the output will power the cement factories, with excess power being sold to the national grid.

Big project line-up

Another possible contender for expansion is the 50.4 MW facility at Al Koudia Al Baida, near Tangier, though so far there is no indication of how much bigger it might be. The plant is now owned by the France-based renewable energy producer Theolia through its subsidiary Theolia Emerging Markets (TEM) headquartered in Casablanca. TEM is also part of a consortium, along with GE Energy Financial Services and local company Tourelec, which was one of 16 entities selected to bid in a tender process to develop, build and operate a 200-300 MW plant at Tarfaya, south of Essaouira. The terms of the project, which will be undertaken as a build, operate, transfer enterprise, require turbines of at least 850 kW and a completion date of 2010.

Two other projects of up to 100 MW each -- at Taza, east of Fez, and on the Atlantic Ocean coast near Laayoune -- are also being studied jointly by ONE and Spanish utility Iberdrola. If the projects go ahead, Iberdrola has the exclusive right to develop and build the plant and to operate them for 20 years. The projects come under the framework of ONE's EnergiPro program, part of the "Initiative 1000 MW" plan, which aims to boost private sector participation in electricity supply by encouraging large, industrial consumers to invest in renewable energy generation for their own needs. ONE will transport the power to the point of consumption and pay an incentive tariff for the transit. It also guarantees to buy any surplus electricity at a favourable rate.

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