The city of Ouarzazate in Morocco will soon be home to a massive solar power plant. With the new solar plant, nearly half of all Moroccan energy will come from renewable sources by the year 2020. The country also maintains wind turbines and hydroelectric generators.
Morocco is taking advantage of its large deserts by using them to receive inexpensive clean energy. If the plan is successful, Morocco could quickly be seen as a global superpower for solar energy.
The solar power plant that Morocco is trying to build is expected to be the largest concentrated solar power (CSP) facility in the world. The first phrase of the facility, which is being called Noor 1, is set to be activated next month.
The plant will use advanced technology that will allow it to continue to produce power even after the sun goes down. In total, four phrases of the facility will be introduced in the coming years.
Once the plant is completed, it will occupy an area as large as the Moroccan capital of Rabat, and it will be able to power more than one million homes continuously.
A major reason for the project is Morocco’s current dependence on foreign energy. The country believes that the $9 billion solar power plant will lessen Morocco’s need for foreign oil.
Deserts have been recognized as having massive potential for solar energy for a long time. In 1986, German particle physicist Gerhard Knies calculated that the deserts of the world receive sufficient energy in just a few hours to power the world for an entire year. However, the real challenge is capturing this energy and transporting it across the globe.
While Noor 1 will be ready next month, the next phases of Noor 2 and Noor 3 won’t be ready until 2017. Once those portions of the facility open, the plant will be able to better store energy.
The final portion, Noor 4, won’t be ready until 2020.
Morocco hopes that it will eventually be able to transfer the energy to the rest of the world as well. For now, the country is starting small, hoping to soon use the plants to cover Southern Morocco and Mauritania.
Still, it’s a major step for a country that is trying to achieve resource independence.