And finally… Moroccan solar plant to power a million homes using mirrors

A city in Morocco is to become home to one of the world’s largest solar power plants aiming to deliver half the country’s energy by 2020.

Based near the Sahara desert, Ouarzazate will see a complex of four linked solar mega-plants that, alongside hydro and wind, will help provide nearly half of Morocco’s electricity from renewables by 2020 with, it is hoped, some spare to export to Europe.

Known as the Noor Solar Project, the first phase will be live next month.

At the heart of the Noor project, is a system of mirrors that focus the sun’s energy to heat a fluid. This process gives off steam, which is then used to power a generator.

One of the main advantages of this system is that it will be able to generate power even after the sun has gone down — an advantage over the photovoltaic panels that are more cheaper and widely available.

In order to harness enough energy to make a practical difference, the project will use 500,000 mirrors across four different plants — generating enough energy to power a million homes.

The $9 billion (£6 billion) project is a push from the country’s government to steer the nation away from its reliance on fossil fuels.

Morocco’s environment minister, Hakima el-Haite told the Guardian: “We are not an oil producer. We import 94 per cent of our energy as fossil fuels from abroad and that has big consequences for our state budget.

“We also used to subsidise fossil fuels which have a heavy cost, so when we heard about the potential of solar energy, we thought; why not?”

Contributions from SCN readers to our “And finally…” section are welcome – they should be sent to:

Share icon
Share this article: