The North African countries are ideal for the use of solar-thermal power plants due to their radiation intensity and the space available. Locations with annual direct normal radiation of more than 2,400 kWh/m² are no exception, while the availability of flat land is nearly limitless.
The activities by Dii GmbH in connection with the Desertec concept launched in 2009 have brought the region to the center of public interest. At the same time, the Clean Technology Fund initiated by the World Bank and the African Development Bank, with a total volume of USD 750 million in concessional loans, promotes the construction of solar-thermal power plants in the region and has created an incentive for the North African states to tender this type of power plant.
In November 2009, the Moroccan government announced the construction of solar power plants with a total capacity of 2,000 MW by 2020 (Plan Solaire Marocain). The Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN), which was established especially for this purpose, made the first step in 2010 by tendering 125 MW at the Ouarzazate location in the High Atlas Mountains. A total of 500 MW are to be realized at this location by 2015, which will be split up into several tendering procedures. As a partner in a consortium with Orascom Construction Industries and Evonik Steag GmbH, Solar Millennium was one of four bidding consortia to pre-qualify for the first tendering procedure. Originally 19 consortia had applied, including many well-known major international groups.
The first ever African solar power plants are currently being completed in Morocco, Algeria and Egypt. These are hybrid power plants that use both natural gas and solar energy. In Algeria, where solar radiation and natural gas resources are available in abundance, the government intends to stick to this strategy. The country is currently preparing the feasibility study for the second of four planned solar/gas hybrid power plants with a 75 MW solar field.
In Egypt, the Solar Millennium Group was involved in the realization of the Kuraymat hybrid power plant, the first in the country to feature parabolic trough technology, some 95 km south of Cairo. The plant is seen as a reference project for the entire region. Here, the most important parts supplied by Solar Millennium’s technology subsidiary Flagsol include engineering services and important components for the solar field.