Morocco plans colossal solar farm for occupied Boujdour

Information from the Moroccan government shows that plans are materialising for a new gigantic solar farm in occupied Western Sahara.

11 May 2023

Picture above: Noor Boujdour 1 has already been built by the Moroccan government in the occupied territory. Now, a gigantic extension has been announced.   

Yet another “renewable” energy project is on the horizon in occupied Western Sahara. And it is gigantic. The new solar project is three times as big as the two solar plants so far constructed in Western Sahara, combined. 

The information about the new 350 MW solar plant in Boujdour appears on the website of Morocco's Ministry for Energy Transition. The plant, referred to as Noor Boujdour II, is described as part of the “Moroccan Solar Plan”.

The announcement states that the plant will be commissioned in 2023. Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) finds that remarkable, as it leaves such a small time frame. It is however not known when the information about this new solar plant was added to the Moroccan website. The investment is mentioned already in a regional budget for 2020 published by the Moroccan Ministry of Finance [or download].  

At present, there are already two operational solar plants in occupied Western Sahara: The 80 MW “Noor Laayoune I” (near El Aaiún), and the 20 MW “Boujdour I” (near Boujdour). 

Both were part of the so-called Noor PV I programme, which consisted of the two photo-voltaïc plants in occupied Western Sahara and another in Ouarzazate, in Morocco proper. The programme was implemented by the Saudi Arabian company ACWA Power.

In 2020, the Moroccan government announced a follow-up programme, the 800 MW Noor PV II, to be developed on multiple sites. The programme would be developed in 2 phases: a tender for the first 400 MW phase was issued in 2020 through 2021. Initially, the tender referred to two locations in occupied Western Sahara - Laayoune II and Boujdour II - but these were dropped when the tender was relaunched in 2021, now only naming Moroccan locations for the first phase. 

What was remarkable at the time of the initial tender, was that sizes of the plots of land available for the project - as described by the Moroccan Agency for Renewable Energy - were massively bigger in El Aaiun and in Boujdour, than in any of the Moroccan locations. The acreage of both locations practically equalled that of all the Moroccan plots combined (Boujdour 1,690 ha, El Aaiún 1,330 ha, versus sites ranging between 212-473 ha).

WSRW finds it plausible that the 350 MW solar farm that the Moroccan government has now announced as “Noor Boujdour II”, is thus part of the second phase of the Noor PV II programme.

Morocco's construction of alleged “renewable” energy in the territory it holds under occupation is highly problematic, controversial and illegal. Find more about the challenges associated with the development in the WSRW report “Greenwashing Occupation” published in 2021. 


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