Tuesday, 04 June 2013 12:38

Lighting the way to path-breaking renewable energy in North Africa and the Middle East

Climate Investment Funds (CIF) has given North Africa and the Middle East the green light for a revised solar plan.

Lighting the way to path-breaking renewable energy in North Africa and the Middle East
The Climate Investment Funds (CIF) has given North Africa and the Middle East the go-ahead for an ambitious solar plan. The African Development Bank (AfDB)/World Bank-supported plan aims to generate more than a gigawatt of power.

The US$7,6 billion CIF recently gave Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia the go-ahead to proceed with an updated version of a sweeping plan to create an unprecedented 1 120MW of energy from concentrated solar power (CSP) for the region. The plan will receive US$660 million from the CIF’s Clean Technology Fund (CTF) and is expected to leverage nearly US$5 billion from other donors and private financing.

The plan, first endorsed by the CIF in 2009, has undergone post-Arab Spring changes by each country to reflect the political and economic conditions in the region, as well as to build on emerging lessons from the plan’s first project now underway – the 1 160MW Ouarzazate plant in Morocco.

The revised plan provides a realignment of projects in the pipeline based on each country’s reassessed needs; focuses on well-performing projects as a stronger measure of the plan’s positive impact; and expands the plan’s horizons to also include concentrated solar photovoltaic (CPV) technologies, and business models including public sector, public-private partnerships (PPPs), as well as independent power producers (IPPs).

The original plan projected a total of 895MW of power, but with the revision the region now expects to achieve 1,12GW, making it the most ambitious CSP programme in the world. The countries have also agreed to request a smaller funding envelope from the original US$750 million to US $660 million, including currently funded projects.

“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 Programme. “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, and a more realistic blueprint for the evolution of renewables as a potent engine of power globally,” Duarte added.

The plan is also adding a technical assistance (TA) component to complement efforts at the project level. It further aims to establish a critical platform for knowledge exchange and increase private sector involvement and regional integration.

President Mustapha Bakkoury of the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen), who presented the revised plan to the governing body, noted: “We are looking forward to seeing more involvement by this kind of financing in the coming years, and hope it will help continue the dynamism of the solar power sector and its competitiveness with wind and other energy sources, including fossil fuels.”

Full acknowledgement and thanks are given to the African Development Bank for providing the information to write this article.


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