Morocco has constructed the largest solar panel in the world, and it is built on the edge of the Sahara desert in the city of Ouarzazate. There are four solar mega-plants that are linked together, and the first one will start supply power to the country by next month with the others to follow in the coming months.
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As soon as the first phase of the solar giants is completed, it will make half of Morocco’s electricity to be generated from renewable sources by 2020, and the country is eyeing exporting power to Europe as soon as things go according to plan. Morocco is using its massive desert to construct the world’s largest solar panel plant, and may soon be a leader in shipping power to other nations, according to a report on The Guardian.
Noor 1, the first phase will go live in November as soon as constructions finishes. The mirror technology the solar panels use is not common like the photovoltaic panels that people position on their roofs, and it is more expensive. But it retains power long after the sun has gone down.
Noor 1 has 500,000 crescent-shaped solar mirrors capturing the desert sun, and they are arranged in 800 rows to enable it track the sun as it travels across the sky.
The four power plants located will nearly take up a space as large as Rabat, the capital of Morocco, generating 580MW of electricity, enough to light up one million houses. And Noor 1 is producing 16-MW capacity of power.
Hakima el-Haite, the environment minister of Morocco, said completed solar energy would produce the economic benefits of oil that the country never had.
“We are not an oil producer. We import 94% of our energy as fossil fuels from abroad and that has big consequences for our state budget,” el-Haite said. “We also used to subsidise fossil fuels which have a heavy cost, so when we heard about the potential of solar energy, we thought; why not?”
The four solar panels cost $9 billion to construct.
“The biggest challenge we faced was being able to finish the project on time with the performance [level] we needed to achieve,” said Rashid al-Bayad, the project director.
Ahmed Baroudi, manager of Société d’Investissements Energétiques – the national renewable energy investment firm, said his company is already installing high tension transportation lines to ship power to south of Morocco and Mauritania as a first step, and then later to the Middle East.
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“We believe that it’s possible to export energy to Europe but first we would have to build the interconnectors which don’t yet exist,” said Maha el-Kadiri, a Masen spokeswoman. “Specifically, we would have to build interconnections, which would not go through the existing one in Spain, and then start exporting.”