ACWA Power says breakdown at Morocco solar plant costs firm $47m

Saudi Arabian renewable energy utility ACWA Power International on Sunday reported a storage breakdown at one of the solar plants it operates in Morocco that will cost the company an estimated $47m.

The 150-megawatt plant, part of the Noor Ouarzazate solar complex, will be forced to remain idle until November 2024, the company said in a bourse filing.

The breakdown highlights the recurrence of technical issues and storage breakdowns at the concentrating solar power (CSP) plant. Technical problems stopped all output there for a year from the summer of 2021, two sources told Reuters last month.

The company said it would repair the storage issue and was also mulling building a new storage tank.

In a 2020 report, Morocco’s economic, social, and environmental council recommended abandoning CSP altogether due to its high cost compared to photovoltaic and wind energy.

Morocco aims for renewables to represent 52 per cent of installed capacity by 2030 from 37.6 per cent now, mostly through investments in solar and wind plants.

It is already falling behind on solar, with only 831 megawatts (MW) installed so far, compared to the 2,000 MW that was planned for by 2020. Wind has made up some of the shortfalls but polluting coal plants still make up most output.