Brookstone Partners, a New York private equity firm, is raising money to build a gigantic wind farm near Dakhla, on Morocco’s southern coast. Sandwiched between the Sahara and Atlantic, the area is a prime spot for clean energy production, energy which is earmarked to power data centres and cryptocurrency mining.
The lack of connectivity infrastructure near the proposed site means that though it is possible to generate electricity there, it is difficult to transport that electricity into the grid. Managing general partner at Brookstone Michael Toporek explained the problem. “We have exclusive rights to the area for a wind farm,” he said, but “the issue was there’s no real place to put” the electricity generated. In cases like these with “stranded power”, one workaround is to “set up a computing center” and “develop this as an off-grid project.”
In order to finance the initial stages of the project Brookstone hopes to raise $100 million later in the year through an ICO. Completing the entire development could cost as much as $3 billion.
However, there are question marks over the entire project. Wind farms are dependent on meteorological factors and cannot guarantee a constant supply of power. According to Itamar Orlandi, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, “the power from the wind farm is intermittent and will probably reduce the utilization factor of the data center as long as it is off-grid.” With the long term proceeds from mining unpredictable, he said that, “it’s not clear to me how they make a 20- to 30-year infrastructure investment backed against that kind of revenue stream.”
Furthermore, the area around the proposed wind farm is subject to legal disputes. Once a Spanish colony, the territory is currently claimed by both Morocco and the Algerian Polisario Front. The United Nations has been pushing for a referendum on the region’s future since 1991’s ceasefire. However, as of now it is still described as “non-decolonized territory.” With so much uncertainty, it would take a brave investor to stake much on such an ambitious project.
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