Next month, a giant solar power plant in the Moroccan city of Ouarzazate will be lighting up the city at night. Harnessing the sun’s heat, the solar thermal plant will melt salt, which will hold its heat to power a steam turbine in the evening.
In the initial phase, the power plant is expected to generate power for three hours after sundown, whereas the last stage is expected to supply power for almost 20 hours a day.
Morocco had pledged 42% of its electricity generation from renewables by 2020. Morocco’s endeavours and level of ambition has been praised by the United Nations.
On completion, the Saudi-built solar plant will be one of the biggest in the world. The mirrors will cover the same area as Rabat, the country’s capital.
Morocco’s Environment Minister, Hakima el-Haite, said: “We are not an oil producer. We import 94% of our energy as fossil fuels from abroad and that has big consequences for our state budget. We also used to subsidise fossil fuels which have a heavy cost, so when we heard about the potential of solar energy, we thought; why not?”
“We are very proud of this project. I think it is the most important solar plant in the world.”
Paddy Padmanathan from Saudi-owned ACWA Power, which is running the thermal project, said: “Whether you are an engineer or not, any passer-by is simply stunned by it.
“You have 35 soccer fields of huge parabolic mirrors pointed to the sky which are moveable so they will track the Sun throughout the day.”
– The Global Panorama