Illustration; Source: Xlinks

GE Vernova and AFC buy their way into giant renewable Morocco-UK power project with $24.3 million

Two players, GE Vernova, a purpose-built energy company, and Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), an infrastructure solutions provider – have joined other significant investors from the energy sector, including TAQA, TotalEnergies, and Octopus Energy, in bankrolling the development of Xlinks First Limited’s huge renewable energy project in Morocco, which will supply the UK with green electricity through the installation of high-voltage direct current (HDVC) subsea cables, along with a large battery energy storage.

Illustration; Source: Xlinks

While Africa Finance Corporation decided to invest $14.1 million in developing Xlinks’ Morocco-UK power project, GE Vernova opted to inject $10.2 million as a minority stakeholder to accelerate the delivery and buildout of the project in support of electrification and decarbonization goals. This project envisions a new electricity generation facility powered by solar and wind energy combined with a battery storage facility to provide affordable, reliable, clean energy from Morocco to Britain within a decade.

Samaila Zubairu, AFC President & Chief Executive Officer, commented: “Africa, with its immense renewable energy potential and vast natural resources, stands at the forefront of global net zero aspirations. Xlinks’ Morocco-UK power project exemplifies this pivotal role, showcasing Africa’s capability to fuel Europe’s shift to sustainable energy while simultaneously addressing urgent climate challenges.

“By harnessing the abundant wind and solar power of the Sahara and channeling it directly to one of Europe’s largest energy markets, this project not only boosts the growth of Morocco’s economy through significant export revenues but also catalyzes the development of local clean energy industries. As this transformative project advances, it will not only benefit Morocco and Africa but also significantly contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with the majority of investments set to drive this change occurring within the Global South.”

According to Xlinks First, AFC’s support marks “a significant milestone for the project,” affirming Morocco’s role as “a continental renewable energy leader,” and demonstrating how Africa’s enormous renewable energy potential can provide solutions to benefit the global energy transition. Upon completion, the project’s wind and solar generation, combined with flexible battery storage, will supply 3.6 GW of clean power to deliver 8% of Britain’s current electricity needs – or the equivalent of 7 million homes.

James Humfrey, CEO of Xlinks First, remarked: “Securing AFC as an investor is a significant step forward in the development of the project. We are excited to be partnering with AFC, a leading financial institution created by African sovereign states, including the Kingdom of Morocco. They bring an unparalleled understanding of, and experience in, African infrastructure. Their mission – to foster economic growth and industrial development on the continent – aligns closely with the planned outcomes of the Morocco-UK power project.”

GE Vernova and AFC have come on board the UK-Morocco power project after Orient Cable (NBO), China’s power cable specialist, entered the project with the acquisition of a stake in Xlinks. As the new electricity generation and battery storage facilities, located in south Morocco, are expected to be connected exclusively to Britain via 4,000 km HVDC subsea cables, the project is set to drive the creation of thousands of employment opportunities including a significant proportion of qualified jobs, supported by training and certification programs.

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In addition, the project is anticipated to foster the establishment of an integrated renewable energy industrial ecosystem, including industrial production of renewable energy equipment, transformation, transport, storage, and reconversion, which will serve as a locomotive for growth and economic development.

Nomi Ahmad, CEO of GE Vernova’s Financial Services business, highlighted: “By leading the energy transition through our vast energy expertise, we help large scale energy projects ensure deliverability and bankability. We are pleased to be part of the Morocco – UK power project, as collaboration across the energy sector is key to ensuring that more affordable, renewable energy is delivered to help meet the UK’s electrification demands and help the nation meet its net zero goals.”

Moreover, the project is expected to help address electricity demand in the UK, which is forecast to double from around 300 to 600 terawatt-hours by 2050 based on scenarios published by the Climate Change Committee, in part due to the electrification of the nation’s heating, transportation, and industry. Since the UK government has acknowledged the potential of the project, the country’s Department for Energy Security and Net Zero is developing an outline business case.

Humfrey noted: “Bringing in an investor of the calibre of GE Vernova represents a further strategic step in the Morocco – UK power project’s development, as we progress the project across several fronts. Xlinks is committed to meeting the UK’s need for reliable, affordable, zero-carbon energy while maximising the socio-economic benefits of the project in Morocco.”

The generated power from the project will be transmitted directly to Britain without connection to the Moroccan, Spanish, Portuguese, or French transmission networks. This will be enabled by the twin 1.8 GW HVDC subsea cable systems – which will be formed by four cables, each 3,800 km long – that will follow the shallow water route from the Moroccan site to a grid location in the UK, passing Spain, Portugal, and France.