With the world facing an ever-growing threat posed by the dangers of using non-renewable sources of energy, Morocco is among the countries leading the race in Africa to adopt renewable energy in the form of solar power. Morocco is now close to completing the world's largest concentrated solar power farm.
When completion is done, which is expected to be at the end of 2018, the power plant will light up and power over one million homes. The most interesting part of the ground-breaking and innovative development is that carbon emissions will be reduced by an estimated 760,000 tons per year. There is so much to be thrilled with a project of such magnitude - if all things are handled in the right manner and the intended beneficiaries get to substantially benefit from this.
The plant is called the Noor Complex, and is the world's largest concentrated solar power (CSP) plant. It is being constructed at the site near the city of Ouarzazate which is on the edge of the Sahara Desert. It was first powered in February 2016, officially turned on by His Majesty Mohammed VI of Morocco. Currently it is powering 160 megawatts against an intended target of 580 megawatts.
Concentrated solar power plants are different from the normal photovoltaic ones. It is more expensive to install as compared to the photovoltaic panels, and 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.
The ambition that Morocco has been exhibiting of late has attracted some form of praise. "Morocco, and Tunisia and some others to an extent, have been rather stable from a political perspective. The supportive regulatory environment, not just for Concentrated Solar Power, but for renewables more generally is also very important," said Harald Heubaum, a global energy and climate policy expert at the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS).
In Ouarzazate town, 10km (6.2 miles) from the site, there are about 583 000 people who live there, and they are set to benefit immensely from this project.
Morocco's intentions to diversify and tap into renewable energy are there for everyone to witness. "Africa, in general, and North Africa in particular, have tremendous potential for solar generation that remain largely untapped," Sameh Mobarek, Senior Counsel and World Bank's said this in 2016 when the project was first switched on.
There is a gradual bye-bye to the heavy reliance on fossil fuels. Watch the video outlining the scope of the project here (from World Bank).
Header Image credit: CNN