A year on from the launch of Morocco’s Noor I solar farm, the North African country is continuing to take positive steps to reduce their environmental impact by transitioning to renewable energy sources.
Having declared at COP21 in Paris last year that they were aiming to generate 52% of their energy from renewable sources, Morocco is signalling its intention to be one of the world leaders in renewable energy.
With their concentrated solar power (CSP) plant, Noor I and the planned Noor II and III developments, the Moroccan state is building towards a cleaner future at a faster rate than most countries.
Concentrated solar power is an expensive, but more efficient, method of generating energy from the sun. It bypasses one of the setbacks of conventional solar power, which can only generate energy during sunlight hours, by offering a sort of ‘battery’ which allows the plant to produce energy throughout cloudy weather and overnight.
Instead of relying solely on photovoltaic cells, CSP uses huge mirrors to concentrate intense sunlight on a chamber which contains a solution capable of retaining heat for long periods. The solution is then mixed with water to create steam, which drives turbines – generating electricity.
This CSP complex on the edge of the Mojave Desert in California is similar to Morocco’s Noor I complex
Currently capable of generating up to a maximum capacity of 160 MW, when the Noor system is completed with the addition of the Noor II and Noor III complexes, the site will be capable of generating an incredible 500 MW.
Morocco has benefited from the generous political will of the state leaders, who understood the need to transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources. Part of the reason behind this was the country’s dependency on imported energy, and it made economic sense for Morocco to begin generating its own energy to meet internal demand.
The African country is also hopeful that the scale of the power generation means that they will produce more than they need – meaning they will be able to export excess energy to mainland Europe.
Morocco’s success could also lead the way for other countries across the African continent to make the shift from fossil fuels to renewable sources.