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Massive Moroccan Solar Plant to Provide Power for a Million

posted: 11/24/15
by: Danny Clemens
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A solar power complex the size of 35 football fields will generate enough electricity to provide energy for one million Moroccans, officials say.

With its second phase currently under construction, the Noor-Ouarzazate Concentrated Solar Power Project (NOORo) will produce over 500 megawatts of electricity by the year 2018. The shift could be substantial enough allow Morocco, presently the region's largest energy importer, to export surplus energy.

The complex will employ state-of-the-art concentrated solar power technology, and will be the largest such facility in the world.

Moroccan sunset
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"Hundreds of mirrors focus the sun's energy to heat a transfer fluid that is used to produce steam that drives turbines that generate electricity," the World Bank, which helped fund the project, explains.

The heated fluid will melt down salt during the day -- by nightfall, the salt will still be hot enough to produce steam (and, in turn, electricity), keeping the plant operational around the clock.

Related: India's Cochin is the World's First Solar-Powered Airport

The ambitious project will be an important step in Morocco's pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emission by up to 32% -- NOORo is expected to emit 700,000 fewer tons of carbon each year than the fossil fuel technology that it is designed to supplant.

It will be operated as a partnership between the Moroccan government and Saudi Arabian firm ACWA Power.

"Morocco is showing the way in building renewable energy eco-systems through a well-executed transparent competitive tendering process. NOORo II and NOORo III projects will add to the preservation of the environment, in addition to contributing to the socio-economic development of the local economy," ACWA Power Managing Director Thamer Alsharhan said earlier this year.

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