AfDB in Major Solar Energy Conference

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From: 04/05/2010
To: 05/05/2010
Location: Cairo, Egypt

The MENASOL 2010 - 2nd North Africa and Middle East Solar Conference centers on how to finance, develop and build utility scale solar projects in North Africa and Middle East (MENA).

The conference provides an opportunity to meet the decision makers responsible for blue printing solar projects in MENA and gain insight on how to take advantage of the solar project opportunities across North Africa and Middle East.

Hot topics being discussed include: What is the present state for solar in MENA? Where are the opportunities for solar projects in 2010? How will governments and utilities engage with solar? How to finance projects?

Answers to these questions and more will be given through a selection of high-level presentations, panel debates and roundtables, with representation from key ministry’s and national agencies.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) will be represented by Hela Cheikhrouhou, Division Manager, Private Sector Operations.

The MENA region has an advantageous geography and climate. The MENA region has the world’s greatest potential for solar power generation, offering 45 percent of the world’s total energy potential from all renewable sources. If the region achieved this potential, it could generate more than three times the world’s total current power demand. The region also has some potential for large-scale wind farms.

The region’s current energy supply may not be sufficient to meet future demand. At present, the MENA region has 146 gigawatts of installed capacity for electricity generation. “With demand forecasted to grow at more than 7% per year for the next decade, MENA countries will need to build 80 to 90 gigawatts of new capacity by 2017 to meet future demand. Renewable energy could play a major role in meeting increasing demand and could complement the region’s unique energy needs.

Africa has abundant renewable energy resources that need to be developed. Of 1,620 GW known exploitable hydro-power capacity in Sub-Saharan Africa, less than 7% has been developed. For the AfDB, broadening the supply of low-cost environmentally clean energy to more people and developing renewable forms of energy to diversify the sources for generating electric power are the major priorities.

The African Development Bank, through its public and private sector departments, is currently implementing several clean energy projects and programs to address these priorities particularly in the energy and forestry sectors.

The Bank’s energy portfolio currently stands at about USD 2 billion.

Example of an AfDB Intervention in Renewable Energy

Ain Beni Mathar, Morocco Solar Thermal Power Station Project

  • Approval date: 02/03/2005
  • Start date: 27/12/2007
  • Appraisal Date: 10/09/2004
  • Status: Ongoing
  • Implementing Agency: Office National de l'élèctricité
  • Country: Morocco
  • Location: Ain Beni Mathar

The Kingdom of Morocco is preparing a major solar power project on five sites — Laayoune (Sahara), Boujdour (Western Sahara), Tarfaya (south of Agadir), Ain Beni Mathar (center) and Ouarzazate — with state of the art solar facilities composed of photovoltaic and solar thermal energy mechanisms. The sites will cover 10 000 hectares and should produce up to 2 000 megawatts of electricity, "an annual saving of one million tons of oil," according to Minister of Energy, Amina Benkhadra. Renewable forms of energy are attractive as Morocco depends virtually entirely on imported energy.

Ain Beni Mathar enjoys abundant sunshine and has enough water to cool the power station and clean the solar mirrors. It is close to both the Maghreb-Europe Gas Pipeline and the high voltage grid that will help move the power it generates.

For the African Development Bank, broadening the supply of low-cost environmentally clean energy to more people and developing renewable forms of energy to diversify the sources for generating electric power are major priorities. The Ain Beni Mathar Integrated Solar Thermal Combined Cycle Power Station is the Bank’s first experience in solar power. It is working in partnership with the Global Environment Facility and Morocco’s National Electric Authority, ONE; the Bank is financing approximately two-thirds of the cost of the plant, or about 187.85 million Euros.

This plant combines solar power and thermal power.It enables ONE to diversify its energy sources, increase its production capacity from 200 to 250 MW by 2012 and to supply the interconnected system with nearly 1590 GWh per year, of which 55 GWh will come from solar, and save on fuel costs.

Many people will benefit from this project. For example, approximately 500 workers will be employed by the project; local SMEs providing support services will be employed by the project, which will help develop regional industrial activities. The project includes building a road and two bridges over the Charef and Tabouda wadis, which will benefit the local populations. The national fuel bill should drop and reduced greenhouse gas emissions will benefit the environment. The use of solar energy is also expected to generate other solar research programs.