The Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen) announced on 24 September the award of a contract to a consortium led by Saudi International Company for Water and Power (ACWA) for the design, construction and operation of a 160mw concentrated solar power (CSP) plant at Ouarzazate. Masen President Mustafa Bakkoury said that work on the project is scheduled to begin before year-end with a view to start-up by the end of 2014. He estimated the total investment requirement for the project at $1bn.

He said that ACWA’s bid was based on a price of MD1.62/kilowatt-hour ($0.19/kwh), compared with MD2.05/kwh bid by two other consortia in the final selection process. This is significantly higher than domestic electricity tariffs and the government is expected to make up the difference between the solar power production cost and the state utility’s sale price. However, the availability of solar power is expected to reduce Morocco’s oil, gas and coal imports for power generation. (CONTINUED - 297 WORDS)