January 13 2016 at 18:07
Morocco’s solar power gamble
by Cop22 Marrakech
eaming in the desert, 10 kilometers away from the mountainous city of Ouarzazate, lies Noor, the world’s biggest solar power station. Spread across an area of some 30 square kilometers, the first-of-its kind complex is expected to generate 580MW and power more than 1 million homes when fully completed in 2017. The plant is part of a bold policy initiative envisioned by King Mohammed VI back in 2009 aimed at breaking Morocco’s reliance on energy imports and speeding up the pace of green energy development. The kingdom, North Africa’s only nation whose soil is completely barren of fossil fuels, spends upwards of $6 billion every year to import electricity from neighboring Spain. Noor is poised to change all that.
Relying on an innovative technology called Concentrated Solar Power (CSP), Noor’s 800 rows of mirrors and lenses will reflect the sun’s rays on a network of pipes filled with a saline solution. The $9 billion plant, albeit considerably more expensive than your run of the mill photovoltaic cell, has the added advantage of working for hours after the sun goes down – engineers estimate that the plant will have virtually no downtimes, since it will be able to produce energy for three hours after sunset and store energy for up to eight hours of darkness. The energy complex was slated to open in December when the first 160MW segment would have come online. However, the inauguration was postponed.
The long game: from Mounir Majidi to Nareva
Presenting Morocco’s bid for the COP22, slated to take place in Marrakech in November 2016, King Mohammed VI unveiled plans to accelerate the de-carbonization of the kingdom’s GDP. The share of renewables in Morocco’s 2030 energy mix will grow from an estimated 45% to 52%, one of the world’s most ambitious pledges. In order to realize this objective, Morocco aims to generate an additional 2GW from solar, 2GW from wind and 2GW from hydro. Building almost 6GW worth of renewables is no small feat – for the sake of comparison, the US has only built approximately 220GW to date. The King hopes this transition will transform Morocco into a net exporter of energy for the region, from Rabat all the way to Mecca. However, Europe’s aging infrastructure is unlikely to be upgraded in time to receive solar powered electricity. “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, spokeswoman of Moroco’s solar energy agency Masen.
Full text: http://africatimes.com/2016/01/11/moroccos-solar-power-gamble/
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