In May 2011, "Desertec Industrial Initiative" and MASEN, the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy, signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the development of a large solar project in Morocco. The specificity of this first Dii Reference Project is to demonstrate the export feasibility of solar generated electricity in the deserts to Europe, using existing lines between Spain and Morocco. MASEN acts as project developer and manages the overall process in Morocco, especially the specification of the project and the identification of locations. Dii acts as enabler, providing its expertise in developing a feasible business case for the planned solar project. This Reference Project has a total capacity of 500 MW and an estimated cost of approx. €2 billion. The first phase of the project will be a 150 MW pilot plant expected to be a solar thermal station with an estimated cost of €600 million. A second phase with a combination of wind and photovoltaics (100 MW) has already been defined. Following specification, invitation to tender and construction, the first available power from the joint Dii/MASEN project could be fed into the Moroccan and Spanish grids around 2014-16 depending on the technology selected. Dii, in co-operation with the system operator ONE and IAEW/RWTH Aachen, has carried out a grid congestion analysis, which highlights the feasibility of integrating the Reference Project into the Moroccan grid.
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