Given the enormous cost of $9 billion, the mediocre output of 580 MW when finished and the vast amount of land used, is this really worth it? Three hours after sunset it’s game over until the next day. What power source comes in then?
Morocco’s king will switch on the first phase of a concentrated solar power plant on Thursday that will become the world’s largest when completed. The power station on the edge of the Saharan desert will be the size of the country’s capital city by the time it is finished in 2018, and provide electricity for 1.1 million people, says the Guardian.
Noor 1, the first section at the town of Ouarzazate, provides 160 megawatts (MW) of the ultimate 580MW capacity, helping Morocco to save hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions per year. “At around 2pm, the king will press a button, the parabolic mirrors will start turning, the heat will begin to turn the turbines and the plant will come to life,” said Maha el-Kadiri, a spokeswoman for Masen, Morocco’s renewable energy agency. King Mohammed VI will then lay the foundations for Noor 2, the next stage of the solar complex.
Noor 1 had been due to open in December but was delayed by unspecified “agenda concerns,” el-Kadiri said. After it is switched on, the plant will initially provide 650,000 local people with solar electricity from dawn until three hours after sunset. “It is a very, very significant project in Africa,” said Mafalda Duarte, the manager of Climate Investment Funds (CIF), which provided $435m (£300m) of the $9bn project’s funding. “Morocco is showing real leadership and bringing the cost of the technology down in the process.”