Morocco Has Switched on the Noor I:
The world’s largest concentrated solar power (CSP) plant near the city of Ouarzazate. Incidentally, Quarzazate was the location for the epic Hollywood movies such as “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Gladiator”. It will benefit the all productive sectors of Moroccan industries including transport, agriculture, and by providing better electricity supply and also from cleaner electricity. The 500,000 crescent-shaped solar mirrors of Noor I, which sits on thousands of acres of desert terrain near Ouarzazate, will generate up to 160 MW of power. It’s the largest CSP plant to come online in the Middle East and North Africa region and the African continent. The first part of a three-phase development in the Sahara Desert intended to supply more than a million homes with electricity by 2018. When the full fit-out is complete, the 350 MW plant will be the single largest solar power production facility in the world.
“Africa has tremendous potential for solar generation that remains largely untapped,” said Sameh Mobarek, World Bank project manager. The new plant will power over one million homes by 2018 and reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 760,000 tons per year, according to the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) finance group. Here are the benefits they note:
– The plant will reduce carbon emissions by 760,000 tons per year, which could result in an estimated reduction of over 17.5 million tons of carbon emissions over 25 years.
– The share of renewable energy in total electricity generation is expected to increase from 4,345 GWh (13%) in 2013 to a target of 5,501 GWh (42%) by 2020.
– Energy dependency should be reduced through additional electricity production from the 160 MW Noor I and the 350 MW Noor II and III in 2018.
– Reaching Morocco’s true energy efficiency potential will prospectively pave the way for economic growth and ultimately generate employment.
Step Toward a Clean Energy Future
As His Majesty Mohammed VI of Morocco pressed a button on 4 February 2016, the first phase of the three-part project was set in motion. “With this bold step toward a clean energy future, Morocco is pioneering a greener development and developing a cutting-edge solar technology,” said Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Country Director for the Maghreb. “The returns on this investment will be significant for the country and its people, by enhancing energy security, creating a cleaner environment, and encouraging new industries and job creation.”
The solar plant uses concentrating solar power (CSP) and although it’s more expensive to install than photovoltaic panels it has the ability to store energy for nights and cloudy days.
Photo by Ethan Miller