Morocco will launch Africa’s biggest solar farm

The plant will be the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant and power one million homes

Morocco will host the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant at the edge of the Sahara desert, to help generate renewable electricity which will power nearly half of the country by 2020.

The first phase of the project, a 160 MW power plant called Noor 1, will be completed next month, the Guardian reports.

The project, which will be built in the Moroccan city of Ouarzazate, involves installing a complex of four linked solar plants (Noor 1 is the first) which will occupy a space as big as Morocco’s capital city, Rabat, and produce roughly 500 MW of electricity – enough to power one million homes.

According to African Development Bank Group, which financed the first phase of the project, Morocco imports almost 97pc of its energy to meet its energy needs, as of 2013. “Noor 1 will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, avoiding the emission of 240,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year over a 25-year period,” the bank said in its announcement.

The $9 billion(£6 billion) project is the Moroccan government’s plan to expand the desert country’s renewable energy supply. “We are not an oil producer. We import 94pc of our energy as fossil fuels from abroad and that has big consequences for our state budget,” Morocco’s environment minister, Hakima el-Haite, told the Guardian.

The CSP technology works by using 0.5 million crescent-shaped mirrors, in 8000 rows to concentrate the sun’s rays onto a liquid. The liquid, mixed with water, heats up to 393C and creates steam that can, in turn, power a generator.

Because this system can store power for when the sun goes down, it will be able to generate power at night-time, a huge advantage compared to othersolar power technologies.

The upcoming Noor 2 and 3 plants of the complex are set to launch in 2017. The two solar plants can apparently store energy for up to eight hours, which would provide solar energy in the Sahara and surrounding regions on a continuous basis.

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