Morocco-UK solar mega project secures UAE funding


Initial funding from the UAE and the UK has been agreed for the construction of a huge solar power plant in Morocco which is expected to supply electricity to 7 million British homes when completed via cables from Morocco to the UK.

According to Saudi news outlet Alarabiya, the project has reached a milestone with the successful closing of an early development funding round raising $37.33 million (GBP 30 million). The investment comes after securing GBP 25 million of investment from Abu Dhabi National Energy Company PJSC (TAQA), one of the largest listed integrated utility companies in the Middle East and North Africa region, and GBP 5 million from global energy technology business, Octopus Energy Group.

Details about when the project will actually start producing electricity in UK homes is at present sketchy, but Maghrebi will update its readers as soon as it has the solid facts.

A British firm responsible for part of the operation – Xlinks – will supply the UK with 3.6GW of renewable energy-sourced electricity via its subsea cables amounting to nearly 8 percent of the nation’s current requirements and enough to power seven million British homes by the end of the decade.

The UK’s Department for Energy Security and Net Zero has established a dedicated team to work with Xlinks to consider the merits of the project and understand how it could contribute to the UK’s energy security.

The project is expected to create around 10,000 jobs in Morocco during construction and might lead to significant foreign direct investments in the country.

READ: Zaid M. Belbagi: Morocco leads Arab world on climate change

Noor Ouarzazate plant in the south of Morocco is believed to be the world’s largest solar energy operation.

Simon Morrish, CEO of Xlinks, said: “Xlinks’ ambition is to supply British households with secure, affordable, and green energy all year round. With this investment and support from our partners TAQA and Octopus, along with the support received from both the UK and Moroccan Governments, we take another step toward achieving that ambition. The huge potential of the Morocco – UK Power Project will help the UK accelerate its transition to clean sources of power, increase energy security, and reduce consumer bills.”

Jasim Husain Thabet, TAQA’s Group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, commented: “As a champion of low carbon power and water, TAQA’s investment in the Xlinks project shows that we are serious about helping reduce emissions whilst maintaining the security of energy supply that societies depend on. We are already working on a large scale HVDC subsea project in Abu Dhabi, and we own and operate one of the world’s largest solar PV plants. This investment offers the chance to bring both our infrastructure and renewable power expertise to the table to benefit the UK and Morocco.”

Greg Jackson, CEO and founder of Octopus Energy Group, said: “This partnership between Xlinks, TAQA and Octopus enables us to drive forward one of the most visionary energy projects in the world. When people ask ‘how will you power heat pumps and electric cars when it’s not windy?’– this is a big part of the answer. This is a new global industry, and the UK and our partners can do it first, helping cement Britain as a leader in the transition to low-cost renewable energy – bringing down bills, powering industry and creating green jobs both in the UK and Morocco.”
The importance of the project for the UK can be gauged from the fact that the UK Climate Change Committee (CCC) says the country needs a net-zero electricity network by 2035 to be on track for a net-zero economy by 2050. The electricity will be generated in the Guelmim Oued Noun region of Morocco by a 10.5GW facility of solar and wind farms, supported by 20GWh/5GW of battery storage. The facility will be connected to the UK power grid in Devon, South West England, via four 3,800km subsea HVDC cables, which will be manufactured in the UK, according to the Saudi news website.
Alarabiya English/Maghrebi/Xlinks


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