Overcoming a series of delays, Morocco started up its Noor I solar project, marking what many observers call a new era for solar power in North Africa.
Located at the edge of Sahara Desert about 120 miles from Marrakesh, Noor I is a 160-megawatt concentrated-solar plant that uses half a million parabolic mirrors to focus sunlight to heat liquid that’s used to create steam to power turbines.
The project, which cost nearly $2 billion, was originally envisioned as part of the Desertec plan to build similar plants across the Sahara and export the electricity to Europe. But it collapsed in 2013 when the major European backers pulled out. Noor I is the first of three phases under a plan to create a massive solar complex, supplying 580 megawatts of solar capacity, that could be the biggest in the world when completed. It’s part of Morocco’s ambition to generate 42 percent of its power from wind and solar energy by 2020.
Source: MIT Technology Review