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Morocco launches the Noor II solar power plant

The Alawi kingdom starts the first phase of this major energy project, which is spread over several Moroccan towns and can generate a total of 333 MW
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PHOTO/REUTERS  -   Solar thermal power plant on show at Noor II Ouarzazate, Morocco

Morocco continues to make progress in the country's green energy transition with leading projects in the region that are showing signs of less reliance on fossil fuels. The Kingdom has just started operating the first phase of Noor II, a mega solar energy project that is beginning to operate in the nation. This was announced by the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen) and the Ministry of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development in a joint statement. 

It consists of several solar plants located in different parts of the country. It is a project that is capable of generating a capacity of 333 megawatts, although in its entirety it can produce 400 MW. These small energy centres are distributed in different parts of the country. Among them, Ain Bni Mathar stands out, which is the plant that generates the most energy for the megaproject, with 184 MW.

It is followed as the second largest power producers by the Sidi Bennour, El Kelaa de Sraghna and Bejaad plants, which generate 48 MW respectively. In last place are the Tarudant and El Hajeb plants, which produce around 36 MW of clean energy.

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AFP/FADEL SENNA - An aerial view of the solar mirrors of the Noor 1 concentrated solar power plant, about 20 km from the central Moroccan city of Ouarzazate.

their full operation and any problems that may arise. In Sidi Benour and El Kelaa Sraghna, the firm in charge of their operation is Taqa Maroc. It is one of the main electricity producers in the Kingdom.

On the other hand, Ener Green Power, an Italian company dedicated to the renewable energy sector and with its own subsidiary in Morocco, has been awarded the Bejaad plant. Similarly, Amea Power, one of the leading renewable energy operators in Africa and the Middle East, is responsible for operating the Tarudant and El Hajeb power plants.

The plant that generates the most solar energy, the Ain Benir Mathar plant in the province of Jerrada, has been awarded to the French energy company Voltalia Maroc. The same company is also in charge of the solar projects located in the Guercif area in northwest Morocco. 

t should be noted that the choice of these companies was managed jointly by Masen and the Ministry of Energy. The two entities launched a public call to find the private companies that was open until the end of January last year. Later, the winners were announced in the second quarter of 2021, while by the end of that year the contract was signed between the two organisations and each of the energy firms. 

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PHOTO/ARCHIVO  -   Wind energy in Morocco

In addition to this, Masen has been in charge of finding and choosing the seven ideal locations for the solar plants. These areas have been the institution's favourites due to their topography and solar climate, where there are sufficient hours of sunshine to make the project viable. They have also been chosen for the socio-economic impact they will bring to the regions where they are located, so that the unemployed citizens of the area can benefit from the project in terms of employment. 

The plants that make up the Noor II mega-project are part of the Moroccan Noor solar programme. This is a strategy drawn up in 2009 and framed under the objective of gradually introducing renewable energies into the national electricity mix. By 2030, the country is expected to reach 52% clean energy.

This energy plan includes Noor Ourzazate, the largest solar power plant in the world. It is located in the city that gives it its name and was inaugurated by King Mohammed VI in 2016. It is a vast 3,000-hectare field using parabolic troughs, a central tower solar power plant and a photovoltaic power plant. They generate around 580 MW per day.