The Safi power station project includes a proposed coal-fired thermal plant, which would be located just outside of the city of Safi, situated between Agadir and Casablanca alongside the Atlantic coast.
It is a project carried out by Safi Energy Company S.A. (SAFIEC), which is owned by a consortium of GDF Suez, Mitsui & Co and Nareva Holding that won management of the project in international open tendering process. According to the state press agency, "The financing secured by Safi Energy includes $900 million from the Bank of Japan, $500 million from Moroccan banks Attijariwafa Bank and BMCE Bank and $485 million from international banks from France and Britain" .
According to Reuters, "The plant, to be built in the coastal city of Safi, would be the second-largest coal-fired power station in Morocco and would satisfy around 25 percent of the country's power demand." .
Safi Energy awarded a construction contract, worth $1.77 billion, to South Korea's Daewoo Engineering in 2013 and signed a 30-year power purchase agreement with state power utility ONEE.
When concerns about environmental and health impacts related to the project were first raised, the companies insisted that the plant will use “state-of-the-art ultra-supercritical technology” that will be provided by Daewoo Engineering. It is the first coal-fired project in Africa to use such technology, which claims to optimize environmental performance, provide 10% higher efficiency compared to conventional plants and says it will be able to reduce CO2 emissions and lower fuel costs. The plant is believed to increase Morocco's coal imports by 3.5 million tonnes per year.
Long before the Office National de l'Éléctricité et de l'Eau Potable (ONEE) and Safi Energy Company S.A. announced the signing of the project finance agreements for the construction in September 2014, protests had emerged in Safi. In March 2014, hundreds of people gathered to stage a protest in the city to oppose the construction of the thermal power station. They were claiming that Safi was already suffering from air pollution. Environmentalists did not seem convinced by the companies' claims that the the plant would be using “clean coal” technology. A representative of a local environmental organization holding a campaign against the thermal power station said that local protesters would call for a solar energy plant to be built instead of the thermal plant. The organization stated that residents still remembered a trauma they experienced in September 2011 when major sulphur dioxide leaks from the local phosphate refinery plant occurred.
Since the protest in March 2014, the local organization which translates to “Against the thermal power plant project– Safi” has continued to uphold their demands to stop the construction of the plant.
The Safi coal-fired thermal plant is supposed to start operating in 2018.