12 Things You Didn’t Know About The World’s Largest Concentrated Solar Power Plant In Morocco

12 Things You Didn’t Know About The World’s Largest Concentrated Solar Power Plant In Morocco

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Morocco will be home to the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant when it is fully built in 2018, producing enough energy to power over a million homes in the country once it is completed.

The Noor Complex will lower carbon emissions by an astonishing 760,000 tons per year when it is fully operational.

The first of four phases was completed in February 2016, with the Noor 2 CSP and Noor 3 CSP still under development – it is around 75 percent built at this stage.

The fourth phase of the project was launched by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI this month, with the 70 MW Noor Ouarzazate IV PV plant successfully launched in what is a globally heralded project.

We take a look at 12 things you didn’t know about the world’s largest concentrated solar plant in Morocco.

Sources: WorldBank, CIF, PV-Magazine, MiddleEastConfidential, MedaAfricaTimes.

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Morocco’s Noor 1 solar plant. Photo: riadzany.blogspot.com

Set to power over a million homes after over $2bn in investment

The project is budgeted at a total of around $2.2 billion, and when it is completed and running at normal capacity it will be capable of supplying around 580 megawatts to power over a million homes.

The World Bank helped make the Noor Complex possible. Photo: Thinkstock

Partially funded by the World Bank

The World Bank is one of the partners who was involved in raising the funds needed for this massive project, as they partially financed construction of the plant through an early $97 million loan from the Clean Technology Fund.

Noor Concentrated Solar Power Plant Project in Morocco (Image: moroccantimes.com)

It works with salt and mirrors

Mirrors focus sunlight to heat up a liquid, which, when mixed with water, reaches around 400 degree Celsius. The steam produced from this process drives a turbine and generates electrical power. A cylinder full of salt is melted by the warmth from the mirrors during the day, and stays hot enough at night to provide up to three hours of power.

King Mohammed VI has been present at the various phase launches. (moroccoonthemove.com)

Launched by the king

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has launched the construction of the various phases, while he has also been on hand to see the completion of certain parts, as he continues to show how proud he is of the concentrated solar power plant.

Noor I Concentrated Solar power plant, Morocco. Photo: Fadel Senna/AFP/wfdd.org

Investing in renewable energy for the future

Morocco is going all out to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, investing huge amounts of money, effort, time and resources to move away from a system that required great amounts of fossil fuels, which at the beginning of 2016 provided for 97% of Morocco’s energy needs.

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Workers at Morocco’s Noor I solar power plant. Photo: agenda.weforum.org

Solar power, even at night

While photovoltaic panels are cheaper than concentrating solar power (CSP), they cannot store energy for times when the sun is not around. The concentrating solar power, however, enables the storage of energy for nights and cloudy days.

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Many blockbusters were filmed nearby. Photo: durbanlife.wordpress.com

Hollywood movies filmed nearby

The site where the solar power plant has been built is near the city of Ouarzazate, which is famous as a filming location for Hollywood blockbusters such as “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Gladiator”.

The Noor Complex solar project. Photo: CNN
The Noor Complex solar project. Photo: CNN

Signed, sealed, delivered

In November last year, the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen) signed a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Acwa Power for the development of the Noor Complex project.

Solar power is the ultimate renewable energy. Photo: Thinkstock

Increasing the share of renewable energy

The plant will eventually increase the share of renewable energy in total electricity generation from 13 percent to around 42 percent after completion, which will be a massive achievement for a country previously so dependent on fossil fuels.

Climate change is accelerating, but projects like Noor Complex give us hope. Photo: Thinkstock

Morocco chosen as host of COP 22

The grand prospect and general aims of the Noor Complex project were among the reasons why Morocco was selected as the host for last year’s United Nations climate change conference (COP 22) in November.

Moroccan children in Ouarzazate. Image: Pixabay.com

Positive impact on the Ouarzazate community

One of the aims of the project is to positively impact the surrounding area of Ouarzazate, in which around 583,000 people live. The town, which is around 6.2 miles away from the site, will receive cleaner energy and better supply, while jobs have also been created.

Ouarzazate C.S.P. plant
Ouarzazate Concentrated Solar Power Plant. Photo: Ouarzazate

Financed by a global panel of banks

The Noor project is expected to cost around $2.2 billion, with the largest financier on the project, the German government-owned development bank KfW, financing around €$829 million, while other funding partners include the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union and the World Bank.