Renewable Energy: Morocco King Unveils First Phase of The World's Largest Solar Plants

By Staff Writer

Feb 05, 2016 04:10 AM EST

Morocco launched a massive solar power plant in the Sahara Desert on Thursday, inaugurated by the king, Mohammed VI of Morocco. The power plant, called Noor 1, is only the first phase of the grand plan that would result in the largest solar power production facility in the world once completed.

There are still two remaining phases, Noor 2 and Noor 3 until the whole plant is finished. The Noor 1 alone is capable of generating 160 megawatts of power of the 580 megawatts capacity. That makes the first phase alone the world's biggest solar thermal power plants, and it's sufficient to account for solar electricity for 650,000 local people. And once all the phases are finished, the facility would be adequate to provide electricity for 1.1 million people.

On Thursday, King Mohammed VI turned the switch on, and the plant will start functioning. At the same event, the King will also lay the foundations for the second phase, Noor 2. The Noor 1 is expected to launch in December but was delayed. The third and final stage, Noor 3, is planned to finish in 2018.

This project is a move made by Morocco to achieve its long-term goal in the energy aspect. The country plans to generate 42 percent of its energy from renewables including solar, wind and hydropower by 2020. The shift in energy sources will also help Morocco save hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions annually.

Climate Investment Funds (CIF) and the World Bank are also involved in funding this massive project. The manager of CIF Mafalda Duarte told The Guardian about the importance of the project, "It's a very, very significant project in Africa. Morocco is showing real leadership and bringing the cost of technology down in the process."

CIF also stated that Morocco is chosen for this project because of its political stability. Duarte added, as quoted by US News, "Morocco was more advanced in terms of regulatory framework and having the building blocks in place, whereas Tunisia and Egypt went through the Arab Spring.

The World Bank, according to NPR, also considered this move highly important for Morocco. The project will make Morocco less reliant on imported energy sources. Last year, 97 percent of the country's energy consumption was imported.

The power plant facility project would benefit millions of people in Morocco as well as reducing emission and supporting the country's development directly and indirectly. Once completed, this facility consisting of three stages would be the world's largest solar power production. 

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