Morocco takes a BIG step in becoming a solar energy superpower!

Morocco has launched one of the world’s largest solar power projects to help combat two of its main energy issues. In a bid to help decrease the country’s reliance on outside-sourced energy, the project hopes to allow Morocco to advanced into new frontiers in energy production. As it stands, 97% of Morocco’s energy supply comes from beyond its borders. The ever-increasing demand for power in the country has forced the government to find new ways to produce energy.


Ouarzazate solar plant will create enough electricity to power a million homes once it is finished. Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian

Morocco receives some of the highest rates of solar insolation of any country, drawing up to 3000 hours of sunlight each year. The aim of the project is to generate 2000 megawatts of energy by 2020. The recently opened power station in Ouarzazate, is one of five, and is a major step in the project’s timeline; producing 500 Mw of the envisioned 2000. The project is estimated to cost $9 billion and is being governed by the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN), which has been established to lead the project and is responsible for implementing the Solar Plan.

Though the cost for the Solar Plan project is high, in the long run, it is expected to save the equivalent of 1 million tonne of oil and stop the release of 3.7 million tonnes of CO2. With the ever increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the fear of global warming, it makes sense to invest in renewable technologies.The African country plans to generate 42% of its energy from renewables by 2020.

The four remaining sites include Ain Bni Mathar, Foum Al Oued, Boujdour and Sebkhat-Tah.

How do solar power stations work?

Parabolic trough solar power plant

Parabolic trough solar power plant- BLS

Solar energy is very power. Each second, the sun release enough energy to power all of earth for one year. Earth lies 150 million kilometres away and therefore only receives a fraction of that energy.

The use of solar power stations is one way  we can harness this ‘free’ energy resource. These power stations work by focussing sunrays to heat up fluids. The station at Ouarzazate uses parabolic mirrors to focus the sun rays on a pipe filled with fluid. The diagram above depicts a typical array of parabolic solar panels.

From there, the concentrated heat from the mirrors turns the water into steam; which is then used to turn turbines. In some systems, synthetic oil is used to heat up the water in the pipes; offering a more efficient way to create steam.

Saad Bhatty

Blogger, journalist, geologist and Tech-enthusiast. There is always something to write about!

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