Quantcast

Morocco Flips Switch on First Phase of World's Largest Solar Plant

Business

Morocco's King Mohammed VI switched on the first phase of the world's largest concentrated solar plant today in the southern town of Ouarzazate. A ceremony was held to officially inaugurate Noor 1 and break ground on the second phase which includes the Noor 2 and 3 projects.

Noor 1 provides 160 megawatts (MW) of electricity for 650,000 local people with power from dawn until three hours after sunset, The Guardian reported.

The final two phases for the project are set to finish construction in 2018. Ultimately, the plant will have a 580 MW capacity and provide energy to more than 1 million people.

The project is called a "concentrated solar plant" because it consists of a large number of movable mirrors that can follow the sun’s path and harness sunlight to melt salt. The molten salt stores energy and can be used to power a steam turbine, allowing for energy production even when the sun isn't shining.

The plant is aimed at reducing the African country's carbon emissions. According to a press release from Climate Investment Funds, which provided $435 million to the $9 billion project, "the solar plant underlines the country’s determination to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, use more renewable energy and move towards low carbon development."

As EcoWatch mentioned previously, Morocco has been dependent on fossil fuels and imports for nearly 97 percent of its energy, making the solar complex all the more promising.

The World Bank said that the plant will reduce Morroco’s energy dependence by about 2 and a half million tons of oil, and is expected to reduce the country’s carbon emissions by 760,000 tons per year, translating to a reduction of 17.5 million tons of carbon emissions over 25 years.

Read page 1

“With this bold step toward a clean energy future, Morocco is pioneering a greener development and developing a cutting edge solar technology," Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank country director for the Maghreb, said in a statement. "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.”

“It is a very, very significant project in Africa,” Mafalda Duarte, the manager of Climate Investment Funds, told The Guardian. “Morocco is showing real leadership and bringing the cost of the technology down in the process.”

The BBC reported in November that the complex is all part of King Mohammed VI’s plans to turn his country into a renewable energy powerhouse.

“We are convinced that climate change is an opportunity for our country,” environment minister Hakima el Haite told The BBC.

Paddy Padmanathan of Saudi-owned ACWA Power, which is running the thermal project, explained to The BBC that if all goes to plan with the solar plant, Morocco might even be able to export surplus green energy to neighboring countries.

“If Morocco is able to generate electricity at seven, eight cents per kilowatt—very possible—it will have thousands of megawatts excess,” Padmanabhan said.

“It’s obvious this country should be able to export into Europe and it will,” he added. “And it will not need to do anything at all … it needs to do is just sit there because Europe will start to need it.”

With its endless expanse of sun-drenched deserts, Morocco has the potential to be a solar super power since it has one of the highest rates of solar insolation of any country. The country receives about 3,000 hours of sunshine annually.

Morocco, which will host the next UN climate change conference in November, plans to generate 42 percent of its energy from renewables by 2020, with one-third of that total coming from solar, wind and hydropower, The Guardian reported.

The publication also noted that the solar complex is a springboard for an even more ambitious plan to source 52 percent of its energy from renewables by 2030.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE 

Countdown to Kickoff: The Solar-Powered Super Bowl

Want to Get Off the Grid and Live in Harmony With Nature? Build an Earthship

NATO: Renewable Energy Can Save Soldiers’ Lives

This Solar Road Will Provide Power to 5 Million People

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) speaks during the North American Building Trades Unions Conference at the Washington Hilton April 10, 2019 in Washington, DC. Zach Gibson / Getty Images

Colorado senator and 2020 hopeful Michael Bennet introduced his plan to combat climate change Monday, in the first major policy rollout of his campaign. Bennet's plan calls for the establishment of a "Climate Bank," using $1 trillion in federal spending to "catalyze" $10 trillion in private spending for the U.S. to transition entirely to net-zero emissions by 2050.

Read More Show Less
Foto-Rabe / Pixabay

When Trump's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its replacement for the Obama-era Clean Power Plan in August 2018, its own estimates said the reduced regulations could lead to 1,400 early deaths a year from air pollution by 2030.

Now, the EPA wants to change the way it calculates the risks posed by particulate matter pollution, using a model that would lower the death toll from the new plan, The New York Times reported Monday. Five current or former EPA officials familiar with the plan told The Times that the new method would assume there is no significant health gain by lowering air pollution levels below the legal limit. However, many public health experts say that there is no safe level of particulate matter exposure, which has long been linked to heart and lung disease.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A crate carrying one of the 33 lions rescued from circuses in Peru and Columbia is lifted onto the back of a lorry before being transported to a private reserve on April 30, 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

Animal welfare advocates are praising soon-to-be introduced legislation in the U.S. that would ban the use of wild animals in traveling circuses.

Read More Show Less
A tornado Monday in Union City, Oklahoma. TicToc by Bloomberg / YouTube screenshot

Extreme weather spawned 18 tornadoes across five states Monday, USA Today reported. Tornadoes were reported in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Arizona, but were not as dangerous as forecasters had initially feared, the Associated Press reported.

Read More Show Less
A woman walks in front of her water-logged home in Sriwulan village, Sayung sub-district of Demak regency, Central Java, Indonesia on Feb. 2, 2018. Siswono Toyudho / Anadolu Agency /Getty Images

A new study has more than doubled the worst-case-scenario projection for sea level rise by the end of the century, BBC News reported Monday.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Matt Cardy / Stringer / Getty Images

The Guardian is changing the way it writes about environmental issues.

Read More Show Less
Blueberry yogurt bark. SEE D JAN / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD

Having nutritious snacks to eat during the workday can help you stay energized and productive.

Read More Show Less
A 2017 flood in Elk Grove, California. Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources

By Tara Lohan

It's been the wettest 12 months on record in the continental United States. Parts of the High Plains and Midwest are still reeling from deadly, destructive and expensive spring floods — some of which have lasted for three months.

Mounting bills from natural disasters like these have prompted renewed calls to reform the National Flood Insurance Program, which is managed by Federal Emergency Management Agency and is now $20 billion in debt.

Read More Show Less