Africa’s largest wind farm

When it comes to the development of renewable energy Morocco has left its North African neighbours far behind. The planned wind farm project in Tarfaya will have a final capacity of 300 MW. (Photo: Office National de L’Electricite)
When it comes to the development of renewable energy Morocco has left its North African neighbours far behind. The planned wind farm project in Tarfaya will have a final capacity of 300 MW. (Photo: Office National de L’Electricite)

Morocco is now set for the implementation of a 9-year 2,000 MW wind power expansion plan after resolving two major stumbling blocks to the construction of its largest wind farm near the city of Tarfaya.

The 300 MW wind farm project in Morocco, the largest in Africa, is ready for take-off following the signing of a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) between the country’s power utility Office National de I’Electricite (ONE) and a consortium of Nareva Renouvelables SA and International Power’s Dubai-based subsidiary Kahrabel FZE. ONE also says the project has achieved financial closure after a consortium of banks, including Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank, Banque Marocaine du Commerce Extérieur (BMCE) and France's Banque Populaire, committed to financing the project to be constructed under a build, operate and transfer model. No confirmation has been reached on who will supply wind turbines and of what capacity for the project.

Morocco is seeking to mobilize US$ 3.5 billion to finance a wind and solar expansion plan, referred to as the independent power project scheme, which hopes to generate an additional 4,000 MW, 50% of it from wind power, to the national grid by 2020. Tarfaya wind power project is one of the five expected to generate the additional electricity capacity from the current 250 MW. The wind project was initially expected to inject the first 200 MW by 2011 and the remaining 100 MW by October 2012 and will, on completion, push the country’s installed capacity to 550 MW, ahead of Egypt’s Zaafarana Wind Farm with an installed capacity of 430 MW.

ONE enlisted the services of Chadbourne, an international law firm consisting of its London partner Robin Mizrahi and associates Laure Berthelot and Adnane Belhacen, for the project. HSBC and Garrad Hassan are, respectively, the financial and technical advisers for the wind farm undertaking. However, the 550 MW is still far much smaller than the initial anticipated capacity increase of wind power installation capacity to 1,333 MW by the end of this year. ONE is to develop 300 MW through the Tarfaya project, while independent producers were to generate the remaining 1,000 MW. Already world leading cement maker Lafarge, through its Moroccan subsidiary, Lafarge Morocco, has developed a 32 MW wind power facility at its Tetouan cement plant.

High wind potential

Constructing the wind farm in Tarfaya was deliberate. The site, together with Taza and Dakhla, are considered the best for installing wind turbines because of the high wind potential, estimated at an annual average of 7.5 m/s and 9.5 m/s at 40 meters. Morocco, ONE says, has a total potential of 7,936 TWh/year, an equivalent of 2,600 GW. Currently the North African nation has three major wind power projects, including 50.4 MW in El Kouda El Baida, 60 MW at Amogdoul and 140 MW at Allak, El Haoud. Morocco is seeking for increased participation by independent power producers in the country’s renewable energy sector through its ‘EnergiPro’ initiative. The scheme involves encouraging industrial investors to engage in self-generation of electricity from wind and solar of up to 50 MW. ONE has guaranteed to purchase all the excess electricity at an incentive price.

Tarfaya will be second major wind power project to have made progress in 2012 after last April’s contract between Morocco and  a consortium of France’s EDF Energies Nouvelles and Mitsui Company for the construction of the 150 MW Taza wind project. The Taza wind farm will be equipped with 50 Alstom wind turbines each with a capacity of 3 MW. EDF Energies Nouvelles has already announced the creation of a local subsidiary, EDF EN Maroc, to spearhead the company’s agenda in Morocco’s renewable energy sector.

Shem Oirere

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