Hotter than heck and bone dry, the Middle East and North Africa have an abundance of sun, and leaders across the region are striving to make the most of it.
Five North African countries and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan will receive a total of $660 million from the $7.6 billion Climate Investment Fund (CIF) under a newly revised plan to construct solar plants and provide assistance that will facilitate easier uptake of further renewable generation in the future.
Revised since the Arab Spring has created new economic priorities and political realities in the region, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia will generate 1,120 megawatts (MW) of concentrated solar power (CSP) under the plan, which was originally approved by CIF in 2009.
Although the number of planned plants has fallen from up to 12 to just five, together they will have more capacity than the original 895MW projected in the initial scheme.
“The changes suggested by the countries in the plan make it a more viable and flexible plan which takes into account the realities each of these countries face,” stated Mafalda Duarte, AfDB coordinator for the Bank’s CIF program.
Morocco has increased its ambitions under the scheme with a plan to build an additional 300MW CSP plant in Ourzazate once the 160MW facility undergoing construction is up and running.
Tunisia, on the other hand, has scaled back on the grounds that it has to focus its finances on more pressing matters.
Egypt will received $123 million to build the 100MW Kom Ombo plant, Jordan will looking into both CSP and CPV with its $50-$100 million chunk of the overall funds, while Algeria and Libya will receive $10 million for “technical assistance.”
“We can all look to this revised plan as both a signal of hope for the forward economic and social movement in the region built on renewable energy, Duarte added, “and a more realistic blueprint for the evolution of renewables as a potent engine of power globally.”
President Mustapha Bakkoury of the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) presented the revised plan to the CIF governing body.
Image of desert flower in Morocco, Shutterstock