The construction of what is expected to be the world’s biggest concentrated solar power plant in Morocco is ongoing. According to the World Bank, when complete the concentrated solar power plant in Morocco will supply electricity to 1.1 million Moroccans by 2018.
The country which is famous for its meandering medinas and the scenic Atlas Mountains will now be known for the largest solar power plant.
The plant is being constructed in a 30 square kilometer area outside the city of Ouarzazate, on the fringe of the Sahara desert, famous as the filming location of Hollywood blockbusters like “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Gladiator,” and the TV series “Game of Thrones.”
The first phase, titled Noor 1, will be operational in the next few weeks, according to officials.
“The country is well positioned to benefit greatly from this solar project a time when other regional powers are beginning to think more seriously about their own renewable energy programs,” Inger Andersen, World Bank Regional Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa, says in a report.
The greatest feature that will be on the solar plant is that it will be producing constant power even during the night. The Noor complex will use a technology called Concentrating Solar Power (CSP), which is more expensive to install than the widely used photovoltaic panels, but unlike them, allows storage of energy for nights and cloudy days.
It uses mirrors to focus the sun’s light and heat up a liquid, which is mixed with water and reaches a temperature close to 400 degrees Celsius. This produces steam, which in turn drives a turbine to generate electrical power.
It’s hoped that the project, whose construction was officially launched by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI in 2013,will reduce carbon emissions by 700,000 tons per year and even generate an energy surplus for exports.
Morocco heavily depends on fossil fuel imports at the moment, which currently provide over 97% of its energy, making the country vulnerable to their fluctuating price.
Lack of reliable power has in many occasions been Africa’s setback in a bid to industrialize and trigger economic growth.
In Sub-Saharan Africa only 24% of the population has access to electricity, which is the worst rate in the world. Excluding South Africa, the region’s entire installed generation capacity is similar to that of Argentina.
According to the African Development Bank, rural connectivity in Africa is still wanting. For example,Kenya accounts for 5%., 4% in Mali, and 2% in Ethiopia.