JORF LASFAR, Morocco, Jan 6 - Morocco will invite bids for construction of its first solar power station at the end of next month as part of a $9 billion solar energy project, its energy minister said on Wednesday.

The 500-megawatt plant will be in the southern town of Ouarzazate, the site where Morocco's ruler, King Mohammed, announced the launch of the nationwide solar project last year.

We are advancing smoothly in our plan to implement this grand project. We will tender for the Ourzazate station at the end of February, Energy Minister Amina Benkhadra told Reuters at the inauguration of a gas storage facility at the port of Jorf Lasfar, outside Casblanca. (Reporting by Lamine Ghanmi, editing by Marguerita Choy)