26 October 2015

World’s biggest solar plant to go live in Morocco

Morocco’s Noor-Ouarzazate solar power plant will go live next month, as the first phase of the largest solar power plant in the world will be completed.

The £6 billion project will be a major contributor to the North African country’s plan to install 2,000 megawatts of solar capacity by 2020.

Funding for the solar plant has come from international institutions such as the European Investment Bank and World Bank, and backed by Moroccan government guarantees.

When completed the solar power plant will occupy a space as big as Morocco’s capital city, Rabat, and generate 580 megawatts of electricity, enough to power a million homes.

The first phase, Noor 1, will generate 160 megawatts alone.

The project also sees Morocco tap into the massive solar power potential offered by its deserts.

Morocco’s environment minister, Hakima el-Haite has stated “we are not an oil producer. We import 94 per cent of our energy as fossil fuels from abroad and that has big consequences for our state budget.

“We also used to subsidise fossil fuels which have a heavy cost, so when we heard about the potential of solar energy, we thought; why not?”

“We are very proud of this project,” el-Haite said. “I think it is the most important solar plant in the world.”

The Noor-Ouarzazate solar plant will use mirror technology that will continue producing power after the sun has gone down. The solar energy harvested will be used to heat water, which will create steam that turns energy-generating turbines.

Experts estimate this energy could then be stored, and it is hoped that when the project is completed, energy will be exported abroad.

“We are already involved in high tension transportation lines to cover the full south of Morocco and Mauritania as a first step,” says Ahmed Baroudi, manager of Société d’Investissements Energétiques, the national renewable energy investment firm.

Talks are also ongoing with Tunisia, and energy exports northwards across the Mediterranean remain a goal.

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