GDF Suez has begun construction of the 300 MW Tarfaya wind farm in Morocco, which it says will be the largest wind project in Africa upon completion.
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 (ONEE) under a 20-year long-term 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.
“The Tarfaya project is in line with the Group’s development strategy in fast growing markets," said Gérard Mestrallet, Chairman and CEO of GDF Suez. "We are pleased to support Morocco’s ambitions to increase its renewable energy sources with this project, which will almost double the country’s wind capacity. As the largest wind farm ever constructed by GDF SUEZ, it also demonstrates our commitment to investing in renewables as well as delivering essential energy infrastructure to Africa.”
Tarfaya is a coastal desert location in southern Morocco with optimal wind conditions. When fully operational, the 300MW wind project is expected to yield a high load factor of 45 percent, which makes it a competitive renewable energy source that will save 900,000 tons of CO2 per year. The wind farm will represent around 40% of the country’s total wind capacity at commercial operation date.
In Morocco electricity demand growth has averaged 6 percent per year since 1998 and will continue to grow in the next 20 years. In this context, the Tarfaya project marks a milestone in Morocco’s energy strategy, which aims to achieve 42 percent of installed generation capacity from renewable energy by 2020.
Mestrallet said the project illustrates GDF Suez’s commitment to wind generation and follows the selection of GDF Suez as preferred bidder for West Coast 1, a 94 MW wind project in South Africa, in 2012.
The project achieved financial close on 26 December 2012. It will be financed through a blend of equity and local debt financing, with the equity shared 50 percent GDF Suez and 50 percent Nareva. The debt financing of €360 million will be provided by a consortium of three Moroccan banks: Attijariwafa Bank, Banque Centrale Populaire and Banque Marocaine du Commerce Extérieur.