CONCENTRATED SOLAR PLANT
POISED TO BE WORLD’S LARGEST
Morocco recently turned on its colossal solar power plant in the
Sahara Desert, beginning the first phase of a project that is intended
to provide renewable energy to more than a million Moroccans.
solar power plants harness the sun’s energy using mirrors
to heat water and produce steam that spins energygenerating turbines. By design, the plant is intended to
meet peak power needs, providing solar energy from
sunrise until a few hours after sun down.
Morocco’s King Mohammed VI commissioned the project
and recently launched the construction of the second and
third phases. The estimated cost for the complete solar
plant is 24 billion dirhams (roughly $6.5 billion), according
to a news release from Angence Marocaine de Press.
“With this bold step toward a clean energy future,
Morocco is pioneering a greener development and
developing a cutting edge solar technology,” said Marie
Francoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Country Director for the
Maghreb in a statement. “The returns on this investment
will be significant for the country and its people, by
enhancing energy security, creating a cleaner environment,
and encouraging new industries and job creation.”
he plant, dubbed the Noor 1, is located on the edge
of the Sahara in a town called Ouarzazate. The plant
covers thousands of acres of desert and generates
up to 160 megawatts of power, making it already one of the
world’s largest solar thermal power plants.
All told, it is comprised of 500,000 solar mirrors divided
into 800 glittering rows visible from space, according to a
The massive infrastructure is part of Morocco’s pledge
to obtain 42% of its electricity from renewables by the year
2020, along with reducing energy consumption in buildings
and transport by 12%. That pledge stems from the
landmark Paris Agreement on climate change, which was
struck in December 2015 with the consent of 195 nations.
By the time future phases of the project, Noor II and
Noor III, are completed, the plant will be able to produce
580 megawatts and it will be the largest concentrated
solar plant in the world, according to NASA. Concentrated