Morocco is Building a Giant Solar Plant that will bring Power to 1 Million People

by Nanci

Solar energy is unique for a number of reasons, and one of our favorites is the simple fact that it can be deployed anywhere at any scale, whether it’s a solar phone charger or a massive solar array.

Solar power is also unique among the other sources of energy because it can be democratized. The grid can be effectively owned by everyone. Solar has the capability to make sure no elderly person ever has their lights shut off again, and no child growing up in the third world will ever have to study by candle light again.CU8sAFxWsAY_fhY

I strongly believe that solar should be deployed on individual and neighborhood levels, allowing it to be a people-powered clean energy revolution, but the fact of the matter is climate change will continue to worsen as we pump more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, so any news is good news.

This month, Morocco will be wrapping up phase one of its massive concentrated solar power plant, the world’s largest once complete. It will bring energy to about 1 million people.

The array is located outside of Ourrzazate and will occupy the same amount of space as Rabat, Morocco’s capital. It will generate 580 megawatts of juice.

“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,” Paddy Padmanathan of Saudi-owned ACWA Power, which is running the project, told BBC.

Currently, the plant can store the heat of the sun in the form of molten salt for 3 hours, but once complete, it can store energy for a full eight hours, allowing it to keep creating electricity.

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 12.18.03 AMMorocco is heavily dependent upon fossil fuel for its energy and has little of it in the form of domestic natural resources. They import nearly 97% of their energy, which makes their $9 billion solar array an incredible cost-effective plan. They’re also eager to turn climate change into an opportunity.

“We are convinced that climate change is an opportunity for our country,” environment minister Hakima el Haite told BBC.

“If Morocco is able to generate electricity at seven, eight cents per kilowatt—very possible—it will have thousands of megawatts excess,” he said.

“It’s obvious this country should be able to export into Europe and it will,” Padmanabhan said. “And it will not need to do anything at all … it needs to do is just sit there because Europe will start to need it.”

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