The Moroccan city of Ouarzazate with its dramatic landscape has been a popular setting for famous Hollywood movies and TV shows like ‘Lawrence of Arabia,’ ‘The Mummy’ and ‘Game of Thrones’. What you may not be aware of is that Ouarzazate is also one of the solar energy capitals of the world, thanks to its absolutely massive solar power plant – Noor I.
Morocco receives about 3,000 hours of sunlight per year and this part of the country is one of the sunniest places on Earth, so there is plenty of energy to harness. The country, which was previously relying on imports for 97% of its energy, is on the way to dramatically cutting its dependence on fossil fuels after successfully launching Noor I.
The solar farm already covers over 1,000 acres and is made up of 500,000 curved mirrors, each standing at about 40 feet tall and arranged in 800 rows. Noor I is just the first phase of the planned project to bring renewable energy and is able to generate 160 MW of power. It will soon be followed by Noor II and Noor III and once complete, it will be the largest concentrated solar power plant in the world producing 580 MW of power.
Concentrated solar power (CSP) plants don’t harness energy the same way that typical solar cells do. CSP uses mirrors to concentrate the sun’s light onto a pipeline filled with fluid, heating it up to 739 degrees Fahrenheit. This fluid is then used to turn water into the steam that spins turbines to create energy. The plant doesn’t stop delivering energy at night time as the heat from the fluid can be stored in a tank of molten salts.
So far, the Noor Project has received plenty of praise and the Moroccan government plans to complete it by 2018. It’s expected to provide over one million people with clean electricity and reduce Morocco’s carbon emissions by a projected 760,000 tons per year. The U.S. has similar solar power plants that use a similar system, but Noor I is the only one currently visible from space!
Ouarzazate Solar Power Station
Made of 500,000 Curved Mirrors
It Can Be Seen From Space
World’s Largest Concentrated Solar Plant