Developers of a phased 850-MW land-based wind farm in Morocco say they are ready to start the planned 24-month,180-MW first phase as the North African country strives to generate 52% of its total electricity from renewable sources.

Midelt SA, a consortium of Morocco's power utility ONEE, independent electricity producer and water services operator Nareva and global green energy firm Enel Green Power, won the $261-million contract after a competitive international tender. Midelt reportedly offered the lowest price although it could not immediately confirm the price quoted in the tender.

The consortium has mandated Siemens Gamesa to supply blades and towers from the company's new blade factory in Tangier, the only one in Africa and the Middle East.  The Midelt farm, which will be constructed under a public private partnership with ONEE and King Hassan Fund, will enable Morocco to offset 400,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

Morocco's current installed capacity is estimated at 8,154 MW.

“The project will enable Morocco to make significant progress in meeting its energy strategy,” said Said El Hadi, CEO of Nareva, a subsidiary of the monarchy’s National Investment Co. 

Siemens Gamesa is the sole supplier of wind turbines for the project that is being financed by shareholder equity investments and debt financing from ONEE. The German Development Bank, European Investment Bank and European Commission have already provided financing.

Other phases of the $1.14-billion Projet Éolien Intégré are Tiskrad, Tanger, Jbel Lahdid and Boujdour that will be developed according to the project schedule earlier agreed on by the consortium partners.

“The Projet Éolien Intégré marks a turning point in Morocco's national energy strategy, aimed at meeting the country's growing demand for electricity, at competitive prices while complying with Morocco's sustainable development goals,” said Enel Green Power in November.

The 850 MW of wind generated electricity produced from Projet Éolien Intégré will be sold to ONEE.

Midelt SA has already signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with ONEE covering all the electricity generated by the Midelt wind farm.

“The Midelt facility is expected to produce the same amount of energy required to power a city like Agadir, with 500,000 inhabitants,” added Enel Green Power.

Morocco targets 2,000 MW of wind energy by 2030 and another 2,000 MW from solar plants by 2020 with an average annual production of 1500 MW driven by the high level participation by the private developers attracted by the country's policy of guaranteeing unconditional access to the national grid.