Morocco launches tender for Noor Midelt II; Spain hits record CSP output in H1

Our pick of the latest solar thermal news you need to know.

Morocco follows lowest ever CSP price with fresh tender

Morocco has launched a tender for the 230 MW Noor Midelt II CSP-PV plant in central Morocco, following the recent allocation of the 800 MW Noor Midelt I project to an EDF-led consortium at a record-low price of 68 dirhams/MWh ($71/MWh).

Developers will have until September 16 to prequalify for the Noor Midelt II tender, the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (Masen) said. The project forms part of Morocco's goal to supply 52% of power generation from renewable sources by 2030, equivalent to 6 GW of new capacity.

Five international CSP consortia pre-qualified for the Noor Midelt I tender, including groups led by ACWA Power, France's EDF, Engie, Germany's Innogy and Japan's JGC.

EDF's winning consortium, which includes the UAE's Masdar and Morocco's Green of Africa, will install 200 MW of parabolic trough CSP capacity, 600 MW of PV capacity and five hours of energy storage capacity. Spain's TSK group will act as technology provider and engineering procurement contractor (EPC).

Noor Midelt I features a combination of thermal energy storage and battery storage technologies for greater efficiency, Oliver Baudson, Managing Director at TSK Flagsol, the specialist CSP subsidiary of TSK, told New Energy Update in June.

TSK Flagsol will supply its parabolic trough collector technology and design optimization favored 800 MW of total installed capacity, Baudson said.

Noor Midelt I will be located 20 km north of the town of Midelt, on a site measuring direct normal irradiance (DNI) of around 2,360 kWh per square-meter per year. Construction will begin in Q4 2019 and the plant is due online by 2022, EDF said.

Morocco has already completed three CSP plants at its Noor Ouarzazate solar park for a combined capacity of 510 MW. All three plants were developed by a group led by ACWA Power.

In December 2018, ACWA Power and partners brought online the 150 MW Noor III central tower plant, which includes 7.5 hours of storage capacity.

Morocco's first CSP tower plant, Noor III has exceeded performance targets on output and storage integration in the first few months of operation.

Spanish CSP generation hits new record in January-June

Spain's CSP plants generated a record output of 2.8 TWh in the first half of 2019, some 19.3% higher than the historical average and accounting for 2.4% of national power generation, according to data published by grid operator Red Electrica.

The record output signals improved operations and maintenance (O&M) efficiency for Spain's CSP plants.

Installed CSP capacity is around 2.3 GW and new build activity halted in 2012 after the Spanish government introduced sales taxes and removed subsidies.

The current minority Socialist government has proposed to double CSP capacity to 4.8 GW by 2025 and hit 7.3 GW by 2030. The government’s plan, which will be reviewed by the European Commission (EC), would hike Spain's installed PV capacity from 8.4 GW in 2020 to 23.4 GW in 2025. Wind capacity would grow from 28.0 GW in 2020 to 40.3 GW in 2025.

Rising capacity factors are helping to drive down CSP costs, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), said in a recent report.

In 2018, the global average rated capacity factor of CSP plants rose by six percentage points year-on-year to 45%, IRENA said.

Credit Suisse Energy Infrastructure Partners recently purchased a 49% stake in 250 MW of Spanish CSP capacity from ContourGlobal at a price of 134 million euros ($151.0 million). The five 50 MW plants are situated in south-west Spain and came online between 2009 and 2012.

ContourGlobal, a UK-based power plant investment group, purchased the plants from Spain's Acciona last year. The price paid by Credit Suisse was almost double the net investment made by ContourGlobal.

ContourGlobal will continue to manage, operate and maintain the assets.

New Energy Update