Moroccan King Mohammed VI (C) waves the Moroccan flag as he inaugurates the Noor 1 Concentrated Solar Power plant, some 20 kilometres (12.5 miles) outside the central Moroccan town of Ouarzazate on February 4, 2016. A massive project that the country sees as part of its goal of boosting its clean energy output.
French Environment Minister Segolene Royal was among foreign and local officials who attended the opening on the edge of the Sahara desert, around 20km outside Ouarzazate.
“The solar plant underlines the country’s determination to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, use more renewable energy and move towards low carbon development,” its developers said in a statement.
With an electricity production capacity of 160 megawatts, Noor 1 is supposed to allow Morocco reduce carbon emissions by 760,000 tons per year of greenhouse gases. That would be equivalent to around 1% of Morocco’s CO2 emissions of around 56.5 million tons in 2011, according to World Bank figures.
Morocco initiated construction of Noor 1 in 2013 at a cost of $660 million and involving roughly 1,000 workers. Spread over an area equivalent to more than 600 football pitches, the plant’s half a million metal mirrors follow the sun as it moves across the sky.
The project’s next phases – Noor 2 and Noor 3 – are to follow this year. Once all phases are complete, it is to be “the largest concentrated solar power plant in the world” and produce 500 megawatts of electricity, providing power to more than one million Moroccans by 2018, its developers said.
They store thermal energy from its rays and use it to activate steam turbines that produce electricity.