Morocco’s ambitious Desertec solar energy project received a setback after Spain failed to show for the official signing of the agreement that aims to transform North Africa’s energy market. The first Desertec project between the EU and Morocco is now under threat as Spain had been an instrumental partner in the project.
Officials from France, Italy, Luxemborg and Malta were in Berlin last week with Moroccan representatives to ink the deal that would begin the process of developing a 100MW PV power plant, 100MW wind power plant and 150MW CSP power plant to export electricity to Europe.
Spain is seen as a key participant in the Desertec project since a major transmission line connecting North Africa to Europe would need to go through Spain before reaching the rest of Europe. Now the signing is on hold and the Moroccan government is frustrated that it could dampen the overall make-up of the solar energy project.
“This is just a hiccup and we fully expect to hear from Spain and see what the issue is that is holding them back from moving forward on this grand project that will deliver renewable energy for Africa and Europe,” said a top government official.
Surprisingly, the Desertec Reference Project had been vetted by two Spanish companies as well as the TSO Red Electrica and the European Commission declared it feasible, pv-tech.org reported.
Dii CEO, Paul van Son, said: “I’m confident that the other partners in this negotiation, from Morocco and the EU states, will be able to convince Spain soon as Spain could profit a lot.”
German utility RWE is to oversee the development of lthe first arge-scale photovoltaic, wind and concentrating solar power (CSP) projects in Morocco as part of Desertec.
Morocco imports 97 percent of its energy needs, currently dominated by coal. Its forward-looking energy policy, according to the World Bank, focuses on two key objectives: improving energy security while addressing climate change mitigation, but also ensuring energy access for all citizens and businesses at the lowest possible cost.
With Siemens also announcing it was letting go of solar energy investments to focus on wind, Desertec is now facing an uphill battle that must deal with a number of issues before the project that could be a watershed moment for solar energy globally gets officially off the ground.
Image of solar power plant in Spain, Shutterstock