Noor Midelt is a hybrid concentrated solar power (CSP) and photovoltaic (PV) solar power project planned to be developed in Morocco. With 800MW planned for phase one, it will be one of the world’s biggest solar projects to combine CSP and PV technologies.
The project will also provide thermal storage for minimum five hours.
Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (MASEN) is the implementing agency of the $2.3bn project.
MASEN called for expression of interest for the Noor Midelt phase one independent power producer (IPP) project in December 2015.
In May 2019, a consortium of EDF Renewables, Masdar, and Green of Africa was selected as the successful bidder to construct and operate the facility in partnership with MASEN for a period of 25 years.
Construction on the project is expected to be started by the end of 2019, while commissioning is expected in 2022.
The solar power station will provide electricity at a tariff of 0.68 Moroccan dirhams (7 US cents) per KWh at peak hours, which is the world’s lowest auction price for a solar plant till date.
The project is expected to provide clean electricity to more than one million people, while offsetting 760,000 tonnes (t) of carbon emissions a year.
Noor Midelt phase one solar plant location and site details
The Noor Midelt solar complex will be developed on a 3,000ha site on the Haute Moulouya Plateau in Central Morocco, approximately 20km north-east of the Midelt town.
Located on high planes between the Middle and High Atlas mountains, the site is surrounded by the Moulouya River and possesses good solar resources with the direct normal irradiance (DNI) exceeding 2.3GWh/m² a year.
The site is also situated in close proximity to the Route Nationale RN13 Highway, which connects Meknes to Midelt.
Noor Midelt solar project background
Noor Midelt phase one was conceived as an IPP project under Morocco’s Noor Solar Plan that is aimed at developing at least 2GW of solar power by 2020.
The innovative project will also complement Moroccan Government’s goal of generating 52% of the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
The other major project developed under the Noor Solar Plan is the 582MW Noor Ouarzazate solar power plant, which is located in the Ouarzazate Province of Morocco.
Noor Midelt phase one make-up
The Noor Midelt solar complex will be developed with two separate solar hybrid plants namely Noor Midelt I and Noor Midelt II, in phase one. Each plant will integrate up to 190MW of CSP and up to 210MW of PV components.
The solar power station will also feature molten salt-based thermal storage facility, which will enable electricity generation for the Moroccan grid until five hours after sunset.
An on-site substation with 60/225kV transformer will also be built as part of the project, for power evacuation from the site.
The power generated from the 800MW Noor Midelt phase one is planned to be evacuated through a 225kV transmission line connecting the Mibladen substation located 10km from the project site.
A 180km-long 400kV transmission line from Noor Midelt to El Ouali has been planned for power evacuation, upon completion of the phase two development of the solar complex, which is expected to add two more similar hybrid plants at the site. The Noor Midelt substation will also be upgraded as part of the project.
The power transmission infrastructure for the Noor Midelt solar complex will be developed and operated by Morocco’s national power utility Office National de l'Electricité et de l'Eau Potable (ONEE).
Infrastructure facilities for Noor Midelt solar complex
Water supply for the hybrid solar complex will be facilitated by constructing an 11km-long water pipeline from the Hassan II dam reservoir. A pumping station and a raw water treatment plant will also be built as part of the project.
Electricity to the project development site as well as the water-intake facility will be supplied through two 22kV transmission lines from the Zaida and Mibladen substations.
Further, a 30km-long access road will be built to connect the solar complex with the RN13 Highway, while another access road will be built to link the Noor Midelt site with the Hassan II dam.
The phase one of Noor Midelt solar power project is proposed to be financed through 80% debt and 20% equity.
The World Bank approved $125m financing including $100m from International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and $25m from the Clean Technology Fund (CTF), for the Noor Midelt phase one, in June 2018.
The other lenders for the project include African Development Bank ($265m), European Investment Bank ($420m), the French Development Agency ($185m), and KfW ($852m).
The remaining cost will be funded by the project company, which is jointly owned by EDF Renewables, Masdar, Green of Africa, and MASEN.
Partners and contractors
The EDF-Masdar-Green of Africa consortium has selected TSK, an engineering and construction firm based in Spain, for the design and construction of the Noor Midelt phase one.
EDF Renewables, a subsidiary of the French electric utility EDF, is focused on solar and wind power development mostly in Europe and North America.
Masdar, also known as the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, is a renewable energy company based in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Green of Africa is a joint venture of three Moroccan groups FinanceCom, Akwa Group, and AMHAL.
MASEN engaged GOPA International Energy Consultants and Suntrace as technical advisors for the project, while MENA Renewables and Sustainability (MENARES), a consulting company based in Morocco, was engaged for the environmental and social studies.