Quantcast

Morocco's Giant Solar Plant to Bring Energy to 1 Million People

Business

Morocco's enormous concentrated solar power plant—which will be the world’s largest once fully built—will complete phase one next month and bring energy to 1 million people, BBC News reports.

Located outside the city of Ourrzazate, the plant will take up the same amount of space as Morocco’s capital, Rabat, and will generate 580 megawatts of electricity.

The plant employs 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 at night.

"You have 35 soccer fields of huge parabolic mirrors pointed to the sky which are moveable so they will track the Sun throughout the day," Paddy Padmanathan of Saudi-owned ACWA Power, which is running the project, told BBC.

The plant's first phase, or Noor 1, can store solar energy in the form of heated molten salt for three hours after the sun sets. The Noor 2 and 3 plants, planned to go live in 2017, will store energy for up to 8 hours, according to the Guardian.

As EcoWatch noted previously, Morocco has been dependent on fossil fuels and imports for nearly 97 percent of its energy, making the $9 billion solar thermal project all the more promising for the North African country.

According to The World Bank, which produced the video below, the Ourrzazate 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.

BBC News says that the complex is all part of Morocco's 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 BBC.

Morocco has an ambitious renewable energy generation target of 42 percent by 2020 that outshines richer and more developed countries. For comparison, President Obama has set a 20 percent target by 2020 for the U.S. In the U.K., it's 30 percent by the same date.

Padmanabhan explained to 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," he said.

"It's obvious this country should be able to export into Europe and it will," Padmanabhan said. "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."

Morocco, with its endless expanse of sunny deserts, is poised to become a solar super power. The country has one of the highest rates of solar insolation of any country—receiving about 3,000 hours of sunshine annually.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE 

Mark Jacobson: Barriers to 100% Clean Energy are Social and Political, Not Technical or Economic

4 U.S. Cities That Have Gone 100% Renewable

Tesla’s Massive Gigafactory Will Be Net Zero Energy, Powered by 100% Renewables

Apple to Power 100% of Singapore Operations With Solar Energy

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Participants of the climate demonstration Fridays for Future walk through Hamburg, Germany on Feb. 21, 2020. Axel Heimken / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

U.S.-based youth climate activists on Friday drew attention to the climate protest in Hamburg, Germany, where organizers said roughly 60,000 people took part, and hoped that Americans took inspiration from their European counterparts.

Read More
Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) surfacing, showing the remains of a blow and its mottled appearance near South Georgia Island in the Polar Regions. Mick Baines & Maren / Getty Images

The largest animal on Earth is proving that wildlife protections work.

Read More
Sponsored
A pipeline that ruptured in Mississippi Saturday, forcing hundreds to evacuate. Yazoo County Emergency Management Agency

More than 300 people were forced to evacuate and 46 were sent to the hospital after a gas pipeline ruptured in Mississippi Saturday.

Read More
Pexels

By Tim Lydon

Climate-related disasters are on the rise, and carbon emissions are soaring. Parents today face the unprecedented challenge of raising children somehow prepared for a planetary emergency that may last their lifetimes. Few guidebooks are on the shelves for this one, yet, but experts do have advice. And in a bit of happy news, it includes strategies already widely recognized as good for kids.

Read More
Pexels

Be it Nina Simone and James Brown for civil rights, Joni Mitchell and Marvin Gaye for the environment, or Jackson Browne and Buffalo Springfield for nuclear disarmament, musicians have long helped push social movements into the limelight.

Read More