GDF is go for 300MW Moroccan wind

French utility GDF Suez has pressed the start button on the 300MW Tarfaya project in Morocco.

Tarfaya – which GDF is billing as the largest wind project in Africa – reached financial close at the end of 2012, it says.

The wind farm will sell its power to Morocco’s state utility ONEE under a 20-year deal, and will account for 40% of the North African nation's wind capacity, adds GDF.

It expects full operations at the plant, on a coastal site in the southern Moroccan desert, at the end of 2014. The French group says the good wind conditions should enable a load factor of 45%.

GDF will own and operate Tarfaya in conjunction with local partner Nareva.

It will be financed through a mix of equity and local debt, with GDF and Nareva sharing the equity 50/50.

A consortium of three Moroccan banks will stump up the €360m ($488m) debt finance.

Gérard Mestrallet, chief executive of GDF Suez says: “The Tarfaya project is in line with the group’s development strategy in fast-growing markets.

"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.”

Morocco wants renewables to account for 42% of installed generation capacity by 2020, says GDF.

Its government is also pursuing concentrating solar power  (CSP) projects, and handed a 160MW contract to a Saudi group last autumn.