World's biggest solar plant is turned on
The King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, yesterday switched on phase 1 of the world's biggest concentrated solar power (CSP) plant, able to power more than a million Moroccan households.
With 500,000 parabolic mirrors arranged in the baking sun, the first phase is visible from space.
French environment minister Ségolène Royal was among foreign dignitaries attending the opening of the Saudi-operated plant, located on the edge of the Sahara desert in the impoverished Ouarzazate province.
NOOR 1, with a generating capacity of 160 MW, will be joined by NOOR 2 and 3 by 2018, giving a total generating capacity of more than 500 MW.
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The first phase of NOOR beats the current record-holder, the Ivanpah CSP plant in the California Mojave Desert, in terms of the number of mirrors, but not in potential generating capacity.
Morocco is the Middle East’s biggest importer of fossil fuels and the NOOR CSP complex is part of its plan to generate 42% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.
CSP is expensive technology, but Morocco secured more than $3bn needed for the Noor-Ouarzazate complex from the AfDB, the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), European financing institutions and the World Bank.
12-m-tall parabolic mirrors concentrate the sun’s rays onto a pipe filled with fluid (ACWA Power)
“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.”