By Souhail Karam / Reuters
RABAT: Morocco has excluded a group led by Egypt-based Orascom Construction Industries from the bidding for the first phase of a major solar energy project, l’Economiste newspaper reported on Friday.
The newspaper gave no reason for the exclusion and a spokeswoman for Masen, the government agency managing the project, declined to comment.
Quoting sources familiar with the plan, l’Economiste said Masen would select a winner within a few weeks from the three remaining consortiums it selected in December, 2010.
The 500 megawatt project, in the southern region of Ouarzazate, is the first of five in a $9 billion solar program that will account for 38 percent of Morocco’s installed power generation capacity by 2020.
The plan is vital to a country without its own oil or gas and which aims to diversify its exports to an energy-hungry trade partner, the European Union.
The four consortiums selected to bid for the design, finance, construction, operation and maintenance of a thermal solar plant in Ouarzazate were: Abeinsa ICI, Abengoa Solar, Mitsui and Abu Dhabi National Energy Co.; Enel and ACS SCE; International Company for Water and Power, Aries IS and TSK EE; Orascom Construction Industries, Solar Millennium and Evonik Steag.
The Ouarzazate project is to start as a 125 megawatt unit and undergo gradual upgrades to 500 MW by the end of 2015.