The World Bank has started a new programme to explore the potential of concentrated solar power in the regions of Middle East and North Africa.

More than 100 senior energy officials from 7 MENA countries have gathered in Ouarzazate, Morocco for the first session of the World Bank Middle East & North Africa Concentrated Solar Power Knowledge & Innovation Program (MENA CSP KIP), a new program designed to support officials exploring the potential of Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) as a sustainable source for the region’s rising demand for energy.

The World Bank and the Clean Technology Fund announced the launch of the MENA CSP KIP with an inaugural conference at Ouarzazate, the site of the world’s largest CSP plant.

The new program will help inform decisions on CSP investment projects in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), a region with some of the world’s best solar energy resources.  

Alongside other clean energy options, CSP offers great potential for meeting global and national goals for clean, secure and affordable energy.

One of the primary advantages of CSP is that it can rely on thermal storage to continue generating power after the sun goes down.

This makes CSP as reliable as the fossil fuel-driven plants it can replace. The program kicked off with a workshop on Concentrated Solar Power Markets, System Value & Financing.

The gathering in Ouarzazate —is the first of a series of conferences to be held through 2019. The program was launched in Morocco to draw on the lessons the country has learned with the launch of its ground breaking CSP program.

Participants will explore lessons about development, technology and financing from Noor-Ouarzazate I, II and III, along with lessons from other CSP projects launched around the world.

World Bank Group senior energy specialist Jonathan E. Sinton said: “In this first conference, we will review the state of the CSP market today and the implications for projects currently under consideration.

"We will also discuss new thermal storage technologies that make CSP a dispatchable resource, capable of delivering electricity 24/7 to the power grid”

The workshop will bring together officials of regional energy agencies and utilities from Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Palestine and Tunisia, along with representatives of leading international finance institutions, such as the African Development Bank ( AfDB), Agence Française de Développement (AFD), Climate Technology Fund (CTF), European Bank for Reconsruction & Development (EBRD), International Finance Corporation (IFC), Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) and the World Bank.

Energy institutions and associations such as the International Energy Agency (IAE),  International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA),RCREE, NREL and the European Solar Thermal Electricty Association (ESTELA) will also attend.

For regional officials, the workshop will be an opportunity to identify and prioritize the most urgent questions related to their specific CSP projects.

Sinton said: "This will help to ensure that future events and activities of this new, innovative World Bank program are tailored to meet specific regional needs."

The key activities to be rolled out in 2017 under the MENA CSP Knowledge and Innovation Program are fast track assistance facility (providing quick support on specific topics), web-based knowledge exchange platform and newsletters, in-depth technical support, face-to-face knowledge exchange and cooperation events / missions and capacity building and training.