Morocco is about to become a world leader in green energy. Being home to the globe’s largest solar farm built on 3,000 hectares in area, the Noor-Ouarzazate complex produces enough electricity to power a city the size of Prague or double the size of Marrakesh. Located at the gateway to the Sahara Desert, the whole power plant complex saves the planet from more than 760,000 tons of carbon emissions.
Morocco has one of the most ambitious sustainable energy targets in the world. Its goal is for 42% of its power to come from renewable sources by 2020. The country is on track of meeting its target with 35% of its energy already being green thanks to Noor Ouarzazate and similar sites. According to the World Bank, imported fossil fuels currently provide for 97% of Morocco’s energy need, which motivates the country to diversify. “Morocco is an emergent country,” Yasser Badih, senior project manager at Masen commented. “Electricity demand has doubled since 2010 and by 2030 we want Morocco to be one of the first countries in the world for renewables to exceed share of fossil energy.”
Noor Ouarzazate has a 243-meter tower, the tallest in Africa, which houses molten salt that is being melted and transformed into energy. Unlike traditional solar panels that deliver energy directly to the grid, curved mirrors concentrate radiation to heat tubes of fluid which are pumped to a power unit. The units can hold energy for us at a later time, specifically at night when demand for energy is higher. The World Bank, which financed construction of the plant with a $400 million loan, explained that during the day, a cylinder full of salt is melted by the warmth from the mirrors while at night it stays hot to provide up to three hours of power.