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Noor 1 is expected to come online next month, contributing an additional 160MW to the grid

In North Africa, the Moroccan city of Ouarzazate is gearing up for the first phase of its Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant, Noor 1, to start generating 160MW of clean power next month. The city has four connected solar mega-plants, which once fully commissioned, is claimed to be the largest CSP plant in the world, generating 580MW of power, The Guardian reported.

Noor 1 CSP

CSP technology has a unique position, as it can produce power during peaking periods due to its energy storage capabilities.

Noor 1 is the first phase of the Moroccan Solar Energy Programme (NOOR), which received a loan of €100 million and US$100 million from the African Development Bank in 2012.

In December, the AfDB said in a statement that in the last decade, Morocco’s energy consumption has increased by 7.2% and is predicted to ‘quadruple’ by 2030.

‘The country has made securing its power supply a priority for its new energy strategy for 2010 to 2030; one of its aims is to diversify sources of production and generate value from the potential of renewable energy sources, to increase its share of electricity production to 42% by 2020’, AfDB said.

Producer of clean power

Morocco’s environment minister, Hakima el-Haite, told media that: “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?

el-Haite added: “We are very proud of this project, I think it is the most important solar plant in the world.”

Project benefits

The Ouarzazate region has over 583,000 residents and a 23% poverty rate. This project aims to improve the socio economic state of the country, including the following objectives:

  • Reduce CO2 emissions by around 522,000 tonnes a year
  • Provide a reliable electricity supply to businesses
  • Promote a new industrial sector producing solar equipment
  • Facilitate job creation