Morocco gains new loan for hybrid PV-CSP project; Wacker seals China transfer fluid deal

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Morocco gains $25 million loan for Noor Midelt hybrid PV-CSP project

Morocco has received approval for a $25 million loan from the Climate Investment Funds’ Clean Technology Fund (CIF CTF) for the Noor Midelt Phase I combined PV and CSP project, the African Development Bank (AfDB) said in a statement July 3.

The AfDB and the World Bank have already agreed to support Noor Midelt Phase I, which consists of two hybrid PV-CSP projects each of CSP gross capacity 150 MW-190 MW and a minimum of five hours of thermal storage.

Five CSP consortia have prequalified to bid for the Noor Midelt Phase I project, the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) said last month.

The shortlisted consortia are led by Saudi Arabia's ACWA Power, France's EDF EN, Engie (formerly GDF Suez), Germany's Innogy and Japan's JGC. Seven consortiums submitted applications to prequalify for the tender in November 2016.

The Noor Midelt project is to be developed through an independent power producer (IPP) scheme in which the successful consortium designs, finances, builds and operates the plants and sells the electricity to MASEN under a 25-year power purchase agreement.

The tender requirements stipulate the CSP technology must be a synthetic oil parabolic trough system with storage or a molten salt tower with storage, official documents show.

The Moroccan government has chosen to support hybrid PV-CSP plants for Noor Midelt to provide low-cost power output during the day and electricity supply after sunset.

While PV with batteries are seen as the most economic solar solution for storage durations of a few hours, CSP plants offer lower generation costs across longer storage periods.

Morocco has set a target of installing 10 GW of wind and solar power by 2030 and the country has been a frontrunner in CSP deployment.

The government has preselected solar development sites at Ouarzazate and Midelt, both situated in central Morocco.

Noor Ouarzazate, the first solar complex, will host three CSP plants of combined capacity 510 MW as well as 70 MW of PV capacity. All three CSP plants have storage capacity.

The first project, Noor I, a 160 MW CSP parabolic trough plant, is already operational. The 200 MW Noor II parabolic trough plant and 150 MW Noor III tower plant have both reached financial closure and are under construction.

A fourth phase at Ouarzazate, Noor IV, will see two PV plants developed with a combined capacity of 70 MW.

Wacker Chemie signs heat transfer fluid deal with Chinese developer

Germany's Wacker Chemie has signed an exclusive supply agreement with Chinese CSP developer Royal Tech for its silicone fluid heat transfer medium, Wacker Chemie said in a statement.

Royal Tech is currently developing a 50 MW parabolic trough plant in the city of Yumen in Western China and a 100 MW plant in Inner Mongolia.

The Chinese company has been involved in the research and development (R&D) and industrialisation of CSP technology since 2009. The company is involved along the value chain, from R&D through project development, component manufacturing, commissioning and maintenance.

Royal Tech tested Wacker Chemie's Helisol silicone fluid in a year-long research project at its CSP test facility in Inner Mongolia.

The fluid can withstand thermal stress up to 425 degrees Celsius enabling high-efficiency levels, and has a freezing point of minus 55 degrees Celsius, significantly lower than conventional heat transfer fluids.

China plans to build 1.3 GW of CSP capacity by 2018 in a first batch of 20 CSP projects. The plants will benefit from some of China's best solar irradiation conditions, but many of them will be subjected to extreme desert and winter weather conditions.

These include the Western regions of Qinghai and Yunnan provinces, which experience sandstorms and aridness, as well as mid-winter temperatures that can drop to minus 40 degrees Celsius and rise to up to 20 degrees Celsius in one day, Wei Zhu, CEO of Thermal Focus, a Shanghai-based provider of solar tracking systems, told CSP Today.

Cold weather could result in heat losses and reduce efficiency, resulting in higher expenses, Zhu said. Plants may require anti-freezing features and dry cooling to minimize water consumption in arid regions, he said.

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