Morocco solar energy deals led by Saudi Arabia

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ACWA rumored to win the contract to build a 160 MW CSP project in in the south of Morocco.

“We are going to opt for the offer made by the consortium of ACWA,” a source close to Morocco’s solar energy agency MASEN told Reuters. The source asked not to be named pending an official announcement due later this week.

ACWA Power International also investing in wind energy in the Middle East is the Saudi-based developer, owner and operator of utility-scale water and power projects. Traditionally, the power had been produced by fossil fuels, for example for the oil-powered water desalination that Saudi Arabia is dependent on.

But in a turnaround on fossil energy for the Saudi company, ACWA has become a world leader in bids for CSP projects. Since CSP is a form of solar power that uses the same “back end” – a thermal power plant –  as a coal or gas or oil plant does to make electricity from turbines driven by steam, the expertise a fossil energy company brings is adaptable to this form of renewable energy.  The solar field itself that removes the need to burn fossil energy to make heat, accounts for about half the scope of the project, and can be developed by solar partners.

For this $500 million project ACWA has teamed up with the Spanish engineering firm Aries Ingenieria Y Sistemas and TSK Electronica y Electricidad for the design, finance, construction, operation and maintenance.

The news follows the success last month of the ACWA bid to build the Bokpoort CSP project 600 km west of Johannesburg, South Africa in its selection as a preferred bidder.

Related: Saudi Arabian Solar Chosen by South Africa

ACWA says that it plans to make solar development part of its portfolio, to reach 5 percent, over the next two years. Saudi Arabia itself now plans an extraordinary amount of solar power, with $109 billion slated for the development of enough solar power to power a third of its domestic consumption of electricity, which is growing so fast that it threatens to take down its ability to export oil. The Kingdom says it wants to grow this solar economy domestically, and has taken steps to begin that, with the first ever poly-silicon refining.

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