Morocco is all set to become a solar energy superpower with the world’s largest solar power plant. The plant is located in the city of Ouarzazate, located on the edge of the Sahara desert.
The desert country plans to fulfill half of its energy needs with renewable energy resources by 2020. While solar power will provide a third of the renewable energy, the rest will come through a combination of hydro and wind power.
The entire project will be developed in four phases, and the total capacity of the project will be 580MW of electricity. The first stage of the project, called ‘Noor1,’ will go live soon. Noor1 will generate about 160 MW of power by tracking the sun throughout the day with its 500,000 mirrors that are arranged in 800 rows.
Each parabolic mirror is 12 meters high and is affixed to a steel pipeline that carries an ultra-hot ‘heat transfer solution’ to create steam. The solution is heated to 393 degrees Celsius, or around 740 degrees Fahrenheit, before making its way into a heat engine. There, it is mixed with water to create the steam that turns the turbines to generate energy.
The total cost of the project is estimated to be around $9 billion USD. Once completed, it will be the largest concentrated solar power (CSP) plant in the world.
Morocco hopes to export some of its spare energy to Europe.