Worlds Largest Desert Solar Plant Has Gone Live
Categories: Solar Power
Morocco has switched on what will be the world's largest concentrated solar power plant.
The new site near the city of Ouarzazate -- famous as a filming location for Hollywood blockbusters like "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Gladiator" -- could produce enough energy to power over one million homes by 2018 and reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 760,000 tons per year, according to the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) finance group.
As His Majesty Mohammed VI of Morocco pressed a button on 4 February 2016, the first phase of the three-part project was set in motion.
Harnessing the power of salt
The solar plant, called the Noor complex, uses concentrating solar power (CSP) which is more expensive to install than the widely used photovoltaic panels, but unlike them, enables the storage of energy for nights and cloudy days.
Mirrors focus the sun's light and heat up a liquid, which, when mixed with water, reaches around 400 degree Celsius. The steam produced from this process drives a turbine and generates electrical power.
A cylinder full of salt is melted by the warmth from the mirrors during the day, and stays hot enough at night to provide up to three hours of power, according to World Bank, who partially financed construction of the plant through a $97 million loan from the Clean Technology Fund.
"With this bold step toward a clean energy future, Morocco is pioneering a greener development and developing a cutting edge solar technology," said Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Country Director for the Maghreb.