On February 4, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI pressed a button that switched on the Noor 1 solar power plant — marking an end to the first of three stages in the construction of what will be the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant.
The Noor 1 plant is near the city of Ouarzazate on the edge of the Sahara and covers thousands of acres of desert.
Similar to the large-scale plants in the Mohave Desert, the Noor 1 plant gathers the sun’s energy as heat then converts the water into steam to turn turbines.
As NASA explained in a release last month, “The system at Ouarzazate uses 12-meter-tall parabolic mirrors to focus energy onto a fluid-filled pipeline.”
“The pipeline’s hot fluid — 393 degrees Celsius (739 degrees Fahrenheit) — is the heat source used to warm the water and make steam. The plant doesn’t stop delivering energy at nighttime or when clouds obscure the sun; heat from the fluid can be stored in a tank of molten salts.”
According to CNN via the Climate Investment Funds, the Noor 1 plant “could produce enough energy to power more than one million homes by 2018 and reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 760,000 tons per year.”
Imported fossil fuels currently account for 97 percent of Morocco’s current energy needs.
The completed plant will not only help satisfy the country’s internal energy demands, but it will also help reduce carbon emissions by millions of tons over time.