Morocco to Build World’s Largest Desalination Plant


Desalination Plant signing Ceremony (Morocco Ministry of Economy and Finance)

Morocco – The North African country of Morocco is soon to become the home of the world’s largest desalination plant.

Abengoa, an international company that applies innovative technology solutions for sustainability in the energy and environment sectors, recently signed contracts to develop a desalination and irrigation project in the Agadir region of Morocco.   

The project, valued $352.9 million, involves the construction of a desalination plant with a 275,000 m3 total production capacity of desalinated water per day which will be the largest plant designed for drinking water and irrigation. The contract also provides for the possible capacity expansion to up to 450 000 m3 per day.

The big desalination project comprises two smaller projects under the National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Maritime Fisheries, Rural Development and Water and Forests of Morocco.

The first one requires a 50 % expansion of production capacity under the contract that Abengoa has been developing for ONEE, thereby increasing plant capacity to 150 000 m3 per day of drinking water. And the second project calls for the additional production of 125 000 m3 day of irrigation water as well as the construction of the corresponding irrigation network for a total of 13 600 ha, promoted by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Mohammed Boussaid, Minister of Economy and Finance, and Aziz Akhannouch, Minister of Agriculture, Maritime Fisheries, Rural Development and Water and Forests, presided, in Rabat, the signing ceremony of the contractual documents related to the implementation of the seawater desalination project.

Speaking at the signing ceremony Boussaid applauded the innovative approach of design and assembly that relied on public-private partnership characterizing this project. In specifying the particularities that can make it a reference at the global level, the Minister considered that this experience is likely to be reproduced in other regions of Morocco as well as in a number of regions in the world.

At the same time Akhannouch  said,  “this major project is part of the strategic vision of His Majesty the King, God assist him, which gives great importance to the sustainable development of the Kingdom, to the preservation of environment and the coastline, the preservation of underground resources and the promotion of green energies.”

The project, which also provides for the option of being operated on wind power, meets the demand of water for domestic use in addition to irrigation water needs in the area of Agadir. At the same time, it will contribute to the development of the main economic drivers, the agricultural and tourism sectors, and the conservation of the aquifers in the area, therefore preventing their over-exploitation.

As specified in the terms of the original contract, Abengoa will continue to undertake the engineering, construction and operation and maintenance for a period of 27 years. Abengoa and the Moroccan company InfraMaroc will be investment partners and responsible for the project financing.

Abengoa has been present in Morocco since 1977 and has offices in Rabat and Casablanca. It has carried out major large-scale projects in the country, such as the world’s first ISCC (Integrated Solar Combined Cycle) plant located in Ain Beni Mathar.

With this project Abengoa consolidates itself as a major player in the desalination sector in the world with a global installed capacity of 1.5 million m3 per day. In addition the company has recently been awarded a contract to build a 250 000 m3 day desalination plant for ACWA Power in Shuaibah, Saudi Arabia.