ACWA Power joins forces with China's CEEC; World Bank supplies $125mn to Morocco hybrid plants

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Masdar's 100 MW Shams 1 parabolic trough plant in Abu Dhabi. (Image credit: Shams Power Company)

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ACWA Power, China's CEEC to study joint projects

Saudi Arabia's ACWA Power and major EPC group China Energy Engineering Corporation (CEEC) have agreed to explore joint investment opportunities in power generation and water desalination in the Middle East and Asia.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by the companies June 7 will "strengthen the ties between China and the Middle East and unlock new potential power generation opportunities in the region,” Paddy Padmanathan, President and CEO of ACWA Power, said in a statement.

“We’re honoured to partner with one of the leading engineering and EPC contracting companies in the world...We believe this new partnership will allow us both to grow and to strengthen our relationship with China in the region,” Padmanathan said.

In April, ACWA Power signed an EPC contract with Shanghai Electric, a major Chinese power company, to install its 700 MW DEWA CSP project in Dubai.

The dual-technology DEWA CSP project, awarded by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) in September 2017, sets a new industry record for size and cost-efficiency. The project was awarded at a tariff price of $73/MWh and includes up to 15 hours of energy storage capacity.

The project will require 14.2 Billion AED ($3.9 billion) in investment and will consist of three 200 MW parabolic trough systems and a 100 MW central tower plant. Spain’s Abengoa and U.S. developer BrightSource are the respective technology providers for the parabolic trough and central tower plants.

Shanghai Electric's experience as a plant supplier as well as an EPC contractor will allow it to drive for efficiencies in the supply chain, Meriem Bellizim, ACWA Power’s project manager for the DEWA CSP project, told the MENA New Energy 2018 conference on April 24.

The project is expected to reach financial close "around the end of July, maybe the beginning of August," Bellizim said.

Shanghai Electric will look to optimize all aspects of the supply chain, including raw materials costs, Wang Deyuan, Associate Managing Director - Integrity Energy Solution Business Unit at Shanghai Electric, told the conference.

"We have a huge demand of quantity for the materials and equipment...We would like to have open discussions...for collaboration with participators for this project, to find the best solutions," he said.

Supply chain gains for the DEWA project should help support global CSP growth and the buildout of a “very strong supply chain” in the Middle East, Deyuan said. Other projects up for tender in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region include Morocco's 800 MW Midelt project hybrid PV-CSP project, for which contracts are expected to be allocated in 2018.

Lessons learned will also encourage the further development of the Chinese CSP market, Deyuan said.

China’s Demonstration Pilot CSP program will support the growth of a domestic CSP industry, and installation and technology experience gained from abroad will allow China to diversify its technology base, he said.

"This will give us more chances to achieve technology improvements," Deyuan said.

Spain's Sener starts up solar receiver for Morocco's first CSP tower

Spanish technology and EPC group Sener has started up the solar receiver for the 150 MW Noor Ouarzazate III (Noor III) central tower plant in Morocco, the company announced June 6. The project is being developed by ACWA Power and partners.

The start-up process involves pointing the heliostats towards the receiver, which is located on the top of the tower at a height of 250 meters, to pre-heat it to 320 degrees C.

SENER has completed the functional tests in the solar field, comprising 7,400 heliostats. In the coming weeks, the company will circulate the molten salt throughout the receiver to heat it to the daily commercial operation temperature of 550 degrees C. The final phase consists of generating steam using the heat captured from the molten salt.

Morocco has set a target of 40% of installed capacity from renewable resources by 2020, rising to 52% by 2030. The country has been a frontrunner in CSP deployment through its Noor Solar Plan.

Noor Ouarzazate, the first solar complex, will host three CSP plants of combined capacity 510 MW. All three CSP plants have storage capacity and are being developed by a group led by ACWA Power. The first project, Noor I, a 160 MW CSP parabolic trough plant, is already operational. The 200 MW Noor II parabolic trough plant, 150 MW Noor III tower plant and 170 MW Noor PVI (Noor IV) plants are all expected to come online in the coming months.

Following ground-breaking stand-alone CSP projects, Morocco now looks set to help pioneer hybrid PV-CSP development through its Noor Midelt project.

Morocco has launched a request for proposals for two hybrid solar plants at Noor Midelt, which will each have a gross CSP capacity of between 150 MW and 190 MW and include storage capacity. The two plants will be built by different developers and technology can be parabolic trough or tower while the exact PV capacity must be defined by the bidder.

All the Noor projects are being developed under a public-private partnership scheme managed by the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (MASEN).

               Other CSP tenders planned in Middle East in 2018 

                                                       (Click image to enlarge)

Source: Middle East Solar Industry Association (MESIA) – Solar Outlook Report 2018.

World Bank to provide $125 million to Morocco hybrid projects

The World Bank has pledged to provide $125 million to the Noor-Midelt hybrid PV-CSP plants, including $25 million from the Clean Technology Fund.

“The design of Noor-Midelt relies on proven technologies that will be operated in a pioneering way to take advantage of the benefits of both CSP and PV technologies on a single site,” Moez Cherif, World Bank Lead Energy Economist for the Maghreb, said in a statement June 11.

Design innovations and a favorable development framework should see the hybrid PV-CSP Noor Midelt projects achieve Morocco's lowest CSP prices to date, an official at the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (Masen), said at the MENA New Energy 2018 conference in April.

Morocco has kept in place a "plug and play" approach to plant procurement used for earlier CSP tenders where many development and financial risks are assumed by Masen.

This framework allows developers to focus on optimizing project costs and should result in a lower tariff for Noor Midelt than on previous stand-alone CSP projects, Meryem Lakhssassi, Sustainable Development Officer, Masen, told the conference.

Morocco’s CSP tariff prices have already dropped sharply, from 1.62 Dirhams per kWh ($189/MWh) for the Noor I project to 1.36 Dirhams/kWh ($140/MWh) for Noor II, Lakhssassi noted.

"We hope [the tariff] will continue to decrease, that is the objective," she said.

Global auction results suggest that CSP could provide electricity at prices between $60/MWh and $100/MWh by 2020, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said in a recent report. In September 2017, Dubai awarded ACWA Power the 700 MW DEWA CSP project at a tariff price of $73/MWh, under a 35-year power purchase agreement (PPA). China’s Shanghai Electric will deliver the plant in the group’s first major CSP contract outside of China.

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