The World Bank in November approved US$297 million in loans to Morocco to help finance the Ouarzazate Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Plant, the first major project of an international effort to scale up CSP in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
The 500 megawatt (MW) Ouarzazate solar complex will be among the largest CSP plants in the world, and is an important step in Morocco’s national plan to deploy 2000 MW of solar power generation capacity by 2020.
As part of the international effort, ESMAP supported a study that assesses the manufacturing, value creation and employment opportunities that CSP presents for the region. In September 2010, the draft study was presented in a regional workshop in Cairo co-hosted by Egypt’s Renewable Energy Authority.
The results of that study were disseminated in a workshop organized in Skhirat, Morocco in June 2011. Over 70 people attended the workshop, representing the Moroccan Ministries of Industry and Energy, the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN), the private sector and the donor community. The study found that MENA countries could become home to a new industry with great potential in a region with considerable solar resources.
In line with the objectives of the Morocco Solar Plan and the findings of the ESMAP assessment, the Ouarzazate project encourages local R&D, skill development and training. The project, which is being developed by MASEN and private sector partners, is expected to trigger the creation of local manufacturing and boost entrepreneurship.
Following the study, the World Bank is helping to develop enabling policies in the region. A Technical Assistance program is currently being initiated, aimed at assisting governments in attracting entrepreneurs to manufacture CSP and other renewable energy technologies locally.