King Mohammed VI inaugurated Morocco’s first solar power plant on February 4th. The massive project is part of the country’s goal of boosting clean energy output. The power plant will be located on the edge of the Saharan desert, and is expected to match the size of the country’s capital city by the time it is finished in 2018, Hurriyet Daily News reported.
After an unexplained last-minute delay in December, Morocco has switched Noor 1 in Ouarzazate, the first phase of a concentrated solar power plant that will become the world’s largest when completed. The project’s next phases – Noor 2 and Noor 3 – are to follow this year and next, and a call for tenders is open for Noor 4.
When finished the project is expected to provide electricity and provide electricity for 1.1m people, according to The Guardian.
Noor 1 provides 160 MW of the overall goal of 580 MW capacity, helping Morocco to save hundreds of thousands of tones of carbon emissions per year.
The north African country plans to generate 42% of its energy from renewable energy by 2020, with one-third of that total coming from solar, wind and hydropower apiece.
Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane and French Environment Minister Segolene Royal were among local and foreign officials who attended the opening on the edge of the Sahara desert, around 20 kilometers outside Ouarzazate.
Morocco, which will host next year’s world climate change conference COP22, aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 32% by 2030.
Morocco has scarce oil and gas reserves, and is the biggest importer of energy in the Middle East and North Africa. The solar plant’s launch comes as Morocco seeks to raise its renewable energy production to move beyond this heavy dependency and face growing electricity consumption set to quadruple by 2030.