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Morocco eyes 10 bln euro investments in power sector

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Villagers of Dahr Saadane walk in front of the wind farm on June 28, 2010 in Tangiers. (AFP/File)

Morocco will invest 10 billion euros ($13.5 billion) over the next four years to boost power generation and meet rising demand, with renewables providing nearly half of the increase, newspapers reported Wednesday.

With no significant oil or gas reserves, Morocco is aiming to become a world-class producer of green energy, notably with vast solar power projects in its southern desert region.

Under the plan drawn up by the department of water and electricity (ONE), 112.3 billion dirhams (10 billion euros) will be spent on raising electricity production by 4,584.5 megawatts, or 67 percent of currently installed capacity, by 2017.

Some 45 percent, or 2,090 megawatts, of the incremental production will come from solar and wind power, according to ONE, cited in Moroccan newspapers.

ONE says it will provide 35.3 billion dirhams (3.15 billion euros) of the required investment, and it remains unclear how the remaining costs will be funded.

The oil-rich United Arab Emirates on Wednesday announced 100 million dollars in "financial support" to help with the construction of Morocco's solar and wind power farms.

The North African kingdom enjoys strong links with Gulf monarchies, which invited Morocco and Jordan to join the oil-rich Gulf Cooperation Council in 2011 in the midst of Arab Spring uprisings.

Rabat's new rapprochement with the GCC led to the signing of a partnership to finance development projects in Morocco worth more than 5 billion dollars over five years.

In May, the kingdom officially launched the construction of a 160-megawatt solar power plant near the desert city of Ouarzazate. A Saudi-led consortium won the contract to build the complex at an estimated cost of 630 million euros.

A 150-megawatt wind farm at Taza, near the central city of Fez, is another showcase renewable energy project forming part of Morocco's green power plans.