Earlier this year, His Majesty Mohammed VI of Morocco flipped the switch on the first section of a massive solar plant which spans thousands of acres and is able to generate 160 megawatts of power. Aiming to harness the 3,000 hours of sunlight the sunny land receives each year, this massive grid will cover 6,000 acres and become the world’s largest concentrated solar power production facility upon completion. The plant is located on the edge of the Saharan desert, in the town of Ourzazate, where several famous films and TV shows have been filmed (including The Mummy and Game of Thrones). The massive construction is about the size of Morocco’s capital city, able to be seen from space, and is set to provide electricity to 1.1 million people.
Currently, the country imports resources to meet 97% of it’s energy needs. Understanding the demand for clean energy sources and rising oil prices, Morocco is working towards a vision of renewable energy production as a viable option that can be implemented throughout the country. With the initiation of Noor I, the first of three sections that will make up the finalized grid, Morocco is set to save hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions each year. The African country aims to generate 42% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, scaling that up to 52% by 2030.
Above image via United Nations Information Center
Image via Power-Technology
The solar farm works by using hundreds of thousands of curved mirrors, which direct solar heat to a fluid-filled pipeline. This liquid is then heated to 393 °C (approximately 739 °F) and used to heat a water source, which evaporates into steam that drives a turbine to generate electrical power. The simple process is also able to store the solar heat in molten salts, even when the sun isn't directly driving the mechanism.
“It is a very, very significant project in Africa,” said Mafalda Duarte, the manager of Climate Investment Funds (CIF), which provided $435m (£300m) of the $9 billion project’s funding. “Morocco is showing real leadership and bringing the cost of the technology down in the process.” If the project progresses as expected, energy produced will be exported to Europe and Mecca while providing a clean source of electricity to the homes of millions of local citizens.
View of Noor I from space // Image via Nasa
via [The Verge]