In a frame agreement between the Kingdom of Morocco and France, the French Republic plans to award French industry, specifically Alstom, a contract for the design, manufacture, construction, operation and maintenance of a very-high speed rail link between Tangier and Casablanca. Included in the agreement, which should be finalized in 2008, Alstom will also build power generation facilities with a capacity of 470 megawatts to energize the rail link. While most of the capacity will come from standard gas combined cycle combustion, 20 megawatts will be from solar power - a first in the world. Neat.
A 183,000 square meter (45 acre) field of solar panels will be built to supply the emission-free electricity.
The first phase of the rail link will be between Tangier-Kenitra. This 200 km (124 mile) link will be used by trains running at 320 kph (200 mph) and should be in operation by 2013.
As part of the project, Alstom is scheduled to deliver 18 very high speed Duplex double deck train sets.
Moroccan passenger rail use is increasing at a rate of 10 -15 percent per year. To meet demand over the coming decades the Moroccan railway master plan provides for the construction of 1,500 km (900 miles) of high speed rail lines by 2030 to 2035.
On the day the first phase is open, Morocco will be the first country in Africa to use world-class advanced high speed rail transport. The solar power contribution may never be seen by passengers, but the first in the world solar powered rail may mark a shift in rail transport technology that others may follow.