Moroccan King Mohammed VI last Thursday inaugurated Noor 1, the first phase of what will become the largest concentrated solar power plant in the world. Built near the Moroccan city of Ouarzazate, on an area of about 480 hectares, Noor 1 is a 160 MW power plants equipped with thermo-solar cylindrical parabolic troughs, and has 3 hours of energy storage capability. The project required an investment of roughly $2 billion.
On the same day, the King also launched of the construction works of the second and third plant of this megaproject, Noor 2 and Noor 3. Built on area of 680 hectares, Noor 2, costing $900 million, is a 200 MW power plant with thermo-solar cylindrical parabolic troughs and 7 hours of energy storage capability.
Noor 3 is an installed capacity of 150 MW which will employ central tower technology with salt receivers and 7 to 8 hours of energy storage capability and will require a budget of $720 million.
The Noor complex uses a technology called Concentrating Solar Power (CSP), which is more expensive to install than the widely used photovoltaic panels, but unlike them, allows to store 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.
These three projects, combined with the photovoltaic phase Noor 4, will make Noor Ouarzazate the largest multi-technology solar production site in the world with a capacity of 580 MW and a total investment of over $6.5 billion.
The Noor Ouarzazate complex will house a 16-hectare theme park whose layout reproduces the map of the Kingdom, as well as structural facilities, including a multipurpose building with spaces dedicated to the operation and functioning of the site, an auditorium, a media library and an observation tower offering panoramic views.
Morocco is frequently lauded as a leader in renewable energy and climate change policy. The 2016 Climate Performance Index ranked Morocco among the top ten countries making the most progress in addressing climate change and number one among “newly industrialized countries,” citing the country as one that shows “the potential of developing countries to move forward.”