A Saudi-led consortium has won the contract to build the world’s largest concentrating solar power (CSP) plant.

The Moroccan Solar Energy Agency (MASEN) has selected ACWA as the preferred bidder for the 160 MW, billion-dollar project in Ouarzazate, Morocco.

The project is a key part of plans in Morocco and the wider North Africa region to boost renewable energy capacity through the construction of large-scale solar and wind power plants.

The ACWA-led consortium also includes Aries Ingeniería y Sistemas and TSK Electrónica y Electricidad. Three other consortia also submitted bids to build the new plant.

According to MASEN, the ACWA consortium met all of its technical and financial criteria of the tender. It bid to produce electricity from the plant at 1.6187 Moroccan Dirham or $0.1879 per kWh.

The consortium will design, finance, construct, operate and maintain the plant. It plans to start construction by the end of 2012 and complete the project towards the end of 2014.

Additional planned phases will bring the capacity of Ouarzazate to 500 MW. Morocco is planning to develop 2000 MW of solar energy and 2000 MW of wind energy by 2020.

Other consortia that bid for the project include one comprising Abeinsa ICI, Abengoa Solar and Mitsui and another one consisting of Abu Dhabi National Energy Co., Enel and ACS SCE.

Ouarzazate is estimated to cost just over $1 billion and will be jointly financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the World Bank, European Investment Bank, Agence Francaise de Developpement, German Development Bank, the European Commission’s Neighbourhood Investment Facility and a number of Moroccan institutions.