German government supports world's largest solar power plant

Engineer holding a water-level to a solar panel

Picture: KfW-Bildarchiv / Fotoagentur: photothek.net

The construction of the world's largest solar power plant, Ouarzazate, was officially launched by King Mohammed VI of Morocco with a ground-breaking ceremony on May 10. The German government is contributing 115 million euros to the financing of the project. The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) are jointly helping Morocco to implement its solar plan and thus avoid an estimated 230,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

Germany has supported Morocco's energy sector for 30 years and stimulated activities in the fields of renewable energies and energy efficiency. Morocco sees Germany's transformation of its energy system, the Energiewende, as an encouragement for its own energy strategy, which envisages substantial investments in renewable energies. German-Moroccan cooperation facilitates the development of regional energy master plans, institution building, legislation and regulations for renewable energies and energy efficiency, and it offers loans for solar, wind and hydropower plants.

The construction of the Ouarzazate solar power plant is Morocco's first step towards implementing its ambitious solar plan which provides for the construction of 2,000 Megawatts (MW) of power plant capacity by 2020. As Morocco is also expanding wind energy, the country may be able to obtain half its electricity supply from renewable energies by as early as 2020. The power plant will have a capacity of 160 Megawatts.

Under the International Climate Initiative ICI), the BMU is providing a grant of 15 million euros to the equity capital share of the state-run "Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy" within this project. The BMZ is offering low-interest loans totalling 100 million euros from the Special Facility "Initiative for Climate and Environmental Protection".

Germany's support is closely coordinated with that of other donors such as the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the French Development Bank and the European Commission.

The funding makes Germany Morocco's most important European partner in the construction of the Ouarzazate 1 solar power plant. The plant will reduce Morocco's dependence on fossil fuel imports. Solar energy is a market of the future, which is highly significant for countries like Morocco. The power plant will be constructed in several phases. In addition to supporting the current project phase, the German government will provide another 650 million euros in the coming years for the expansion of solar energy in Morocco. Germany is thus making a major contribution to the development of this market, which creates jobs as well as investment opportunities for the private sector. The BMU and the BMZ are implementing the German government's Energy Concept, which places great emphasis on cooperation between Germany and the countries of Northern Africa.