French utility GDF Suez has announced the readiness for commencement of construction of the 300 MW Tarfaya wind farm in Morocco, which will be the largest wind project in Africa. The project is owned in partnership with Nareva Holding, a Moroccan energy company.
The Tarfaya plant has been contracted to supply electricity to the Moroccan state utility Office National de l’Electricité et de l’Eau Potable (ONE) under a 20 year power purchase agreement (PPA) on a build, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) basis. Full commissioning of the wind farm is anticipated at the end of 2014,reports the industry site ESI Africa.
Tarfaya is a coastal desert location in southern Morocco with optimal wind conditions. When fully operational, the 300 MW wind project is expected to yield a high load factor of 45%. The wind farm will represent about 40% of the country’s total wind capacity at commercial operation date. In Morocco electricity demand growth has averaged 6% per year since 1998 and will continue to grow in the next 20 years.
The project in Morocco follows the selection of GDF Suez as preferred bidder for West Coast I, 94 MW wind project in South Africa, in 2012. GDF Suez has a 3,907 MW wind generation capacity worldwide.
The Tarfaya project achieved financial close at the end of 2012. It will be financed through a blend of equity and local debt financing, with the equity shared 50% GDF Suez and 50% Nareva. The debt financing of €360 million for the €450 million project will be provided by a consortium of three Moroccan banks: Attijariwafa Bank, Banque Centrale Populaire and Banque Marocaine du Commerce Extérieur.
Morocco seeks to generate 2,000 MW from wind power by 2020 to cut its expensive dependence on fuel and energy imports.