According to the news service PV Tech, the three companies ACWA Power, Fotowatio Renewable Ventures and Alfanar Company have put in the lowest bids for a public bid opening of the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy's (MASEN) Noor PV I scheme; a tender to select a company to develop three photo-voltaic plants with an cumulative capacity of 170MW.
However, two of the three plants - the so-called Noor Laayoune and Noor Boujdour - are located in Western Sahara, a Non-Self-Governing Territory invaded by Morocco in 1975. To date, Morocco continues to occupy large parts of the territory in violation of international law.
The first stages of the work on the El Aaiun and Boujdour plant have thus been lumped in into a tender for additional work on the Ouerzazate plant. The tender foresees the development of 80 MW in El Aaiun, 20 MW in Boujdour, and an additional 70 MW on the already operational 160 MW Ouerzazate plant, located in Morocco proper.
No less than 20 consortia, grouping together 37 companies from around the world, applied in the tender. See a list of those 37 firms here. All three firms that have now been named as lowest bidders, are running separately from each other. ACWA Power, which has worked before on the Ouerzazate solar plant, ran solo, as did Fotowatio Renewable Ventures. Alfanar Company led a consortium which also included Bester Generación Sociedad Limitada, SolarReserve Development Co. LLC and Gaits Industries.
The Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) controls the tender process. MASEN was established by the Moroccan government in 2010 and made responsible for feasibility assessment, design, development and financing of solar projects in Morocco. It is a limited company which is essentially state-owned; it is 25% owned by the Moroccan government, the State-owned electricity agency ONEE, the Hassan II Fund (100% state-sponsored) and the Société d'Investissements Energétiques or SIE (largely state-sponsored but with financial injections from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates).
On 2 November, Western Sahara Resource Watch published a report on the problematic renewable energy programmes in the occupied territory. Morocco is cementing its ties with the occupied territories through this new industry.
Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
It's not easy keeping up with all the different legal proceedings relating to Western Sahara. For the sake of clarity, here's an overview of the three different cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Leading activists from Western Sahara are condemned to sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment in connection to a mass protest in 2010 denouncing the Saharawi people’s social and economic marginalization in their occupied land; the Gdeim Izik protest camp.
At COP22, beware of what you read about Morocco’s renewable energy efforts. An increasing part of the projects take place in the occupied territory of Western Sahara and is used for mineral plunder, new WSRW report documents.