In February this year Morocco launched the first phase of the largest concentrated solar power (CSP) plant in the world. The three-plant Noor-Ouarzazate CSP complex called NOORo expects to achieve over 500 megawatts installed capacity, ultimately supplying power to 1.1 million Moroccans by 2018. It is estimated that the plant will save for country about 2.5 million tons of oil annually and will reduce carbon emissions by 760,000 tons per year.
500,000 of 12 metres high solar parabolic mirrors follow the sun and are focussed on a steel pipeline carrying a heat transfer solution that is warmed to 393C. When mixed with water it creates steam that turns energy-generating turbines.
The Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy secured over $3 billion needed for the Noor-Ouarzazate complex from the African Development Bank, the Climate Investment Funds, European financing institutions and the World Bank.
Despite the relatively high technology costs, when compared to fossil fuel alternatives, CSP is such a promising technology that the International Energy Agency estimates that up to 11 percent of the world’s electricity generation in 2050 could come from CSP.