It isn’t a surprise that Morocco, a country that gets a lot of sun, is planning to create the largest concentrated solar power plant in the world. The Moroccan government is initializing the first few steps to create a large solar power plant near the desert city of Ouarzazate, which is just one of the proposed four plants set to generate a total of 580MW.
Morocco’s ambitious solar plus will complement the country’s exiting wind and hydro power efforts. When completed, the country will source close to 50 percent of its electricity from renewable generation as early as 2020.
The plan is to build a large complex of four linked solar mega-plants that, when completed, will be the largest concentrated solar power plant in the world.
Morocco is currently in phase 1 of its project, the 160MW Noor 1, which will start generating electricity next month. The first part of the complex, when finished, will have over 500,000 solar mirrors in 800 rows. It will also include a capacity for molten sand energy storage that will allow over three hours of electric generation after the sun goes down. The government explains that phase 2 and 3 will have the capacity for eight hours of storage, which means that the solar energy can power homes and buildings 24/7.
The country is also planning to improve interconnectors between countries and across continents, in hopes to sell surplus to neighboring countries and Europe.
The project is, admittedly, a massive undertaking and just the first part of the complex will take up the same amount of space as Rabat, Morocco’s capital. Despite this, the government is adamant at becoming a global solar superpower and its current record in the development of the first stage of the solar complex is very optimistic.
Power from the Desert
Thirty years ago, German particle physicist Gerhard Knies calculated that “in just six hours, the world’s deserts receive more energy from the sun than humans consume in a year.” There’s no doubt that the potential of the world’s deserts as a solar conduit is vast. With solar costs plummeting, other countries close to the desert may want to look at their own backyards to power their cities.
In other parts of the world, coal companies are filing for bankruptcy in droves, as cleaner and more renewable energy resources are paving way to the future. In the US alone, coal power plants are retiring earlier than expected due to increased completion from renewable energy sources along with together regulation.
Is solar energy going to be the norm for the next few years? Most countries aren’t as quick to grasp the concept as well as the benefits of using the sun as a resource. But, efforts are under way and the future, it seems, is bright.