World’s largest concentrated solar power plant in Morocco showcases AfDB’s New Deal on Energy for Africa
On Thursday, February 4, 2016, King Mohammed VI of Morocco inaugurated the first phase of the country’s Noor Ouarzazate Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant, ushering in a new era for Africa’s sustainable energy future.
The Noor Ouarzazate plant (NOORo), supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB) among other donors, is a keystone of Morocco’s solar Program (named Program Noor) to develop 2 GW by 2020 and create transformational impact on Morocco and the region. As such, it stands as a showcase example of the ambitious New Deal on Energy initiated by the Bank’s new President, Akinwumi Adesina, to provide universal access to energy for all Africans by 2025. The New Deal is poised to transform Africa’s energy by exponentially increasing on-grid generation and transmission, off-grid connections, and access to clean cooking energy throughout Africa.
Noor Ouarzazate provides an important early example of the type of project, which can trigger the transformation of Africa’s energy sector required to achieve the New Deal’s ambitious vision. The New Deal will operate through five principles: raising aspirations to solve Africa’s energy challenges; establishing a Transformative Partnership on Energy for Africa; mobilizing domestic and international capital for innovative financing in Africa’s energy sector; supporting African governments in strengthening energy policy, regulation and sector governance; and increasing the Bank’s investments in energy and climate financing. Noor addresses those principles in four ways:
- The plant exponentially harnesses the country’s solar power, achieving over 500 megawatts (MW) installed capacity and increasing on-grid access to more than a million households by 2018;
- The plant in Ouarzazate will also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the region by 19 million tons over 25 years, keeping the region in line with its nations’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change;
- Built on a partnership between the public and private sectors, the project will exponentially increase market access to solar energy by reducing market risk and creating attractive investment potential;
- The project will have a powerful economic impact on the country, contributing to industrial development and helping create an estimated 2,500 jobs.
“We are proud that Africa is leading the way at a global level to shift the world’s consumption and use of solar energy as a central source of our future power,” stated Kurt Lonsway, AfDB’s Environment and Climate Change Division Manager and CIF Coordinator. “At its outset, NOORo is an elegant achievement, because it helps answer the crying need for increased access to basic energy services for the citizens of Africa, at the same time that it breaks ground on low-carbon and sustainable energy use. We believe that NOORo will serve as a powerful example for Africa and the world.”
The Noor Ouarzazate plant is a partnership between the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), the AfDB, World Bank, and other international partners. Implementation of the whole Noor Ouarzazate CSP project will be carried out at a total cost of €2.1 billion including €365 million from AfDB and CIF via AfDB and €227 million from the World Bank and CIF via the World Bank.
About the Climate Investment Funds (CIF)
Established in 2008, as one of the largest fast-tracked climate financing instruments in the world, the US $8.1-billion CIF provides developing countries with grants, concessional loans, risk mitigation instruments, and equity that leverage significant financing from the private sector, MDBs and other sources. Five MDBs – the African Development Bank (AfDB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and World Bank Group (WBG) – implement CIF-funded projects and programs.