The first phase of the Largest Concentrated Solar plant in the world has gone live in Morocco. When completed (Phase 2 in 2017 and Phase 3 in 2018), the plant will provide energy for more than one million homes in Morocco.
The inauguration of the plant was carried out last week (February 4) by His Majesty Mohammed VI of Morocco.
The 3-plant, $9 billion Noor-Ouarzazate CSP complex called NOORo will cut carbon emissions by 760,000 tons a year, thereby underlining the country’s determination to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, use more renewable energy, and move towards low carbon development.
The plant expects to achieve over 500 megawatts (MW) installed capacity, ultimately supplying power to 1.1 million Moroccans by 2018.
Paid for with funds approved by The World Bank, the plant is located in the Souss-Massa-Drâa area in Morocco, about 6 miles from Ouarzazate town. According to the World Bank, the new Noor CSP plant will create 1,600 jobs during construction and 200 jobs during the power plant’s operation.
Concentrated Solar power is such a promising technology that the International Energy Agency estimates that up to 11 percent of the world’s electricity generation in 2050 could come from CSP. This is especially true in the Middle East and North Africa, a region with abundant solar resources and high hopes of eventually helping to meet the E.U.’s demand for energy.
“With this bold step toward a clean energy future, Morocco is pioneering a greener development and developing a cutting edge solar technology,” said Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Country Director for the Maghreb, “the returns on this investment will be significant for the country and its people, by enhancing energy security, creating a cleaner environment, and encouraging new industries and job creation.”
Despite the potential of CSP, relatively high technology costs, when compared to fossil fuel alternatives, deter utilities from investing. Concessional and public financing were key to lift this project off the ground. The Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy, the government agency focused on the country’s solar ambitions, secured over $3 billion needed for the Noor-Ouarzazate complex from the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), European financing institutions and the World Bank.
“This launch shows that the low-cost, long-term financing provided by the CIF can serve as the spark that attracts the public and private investments needed to build massive CSP production facilities at an attractive cost for countries interested in developing solar energy,” said Mafalda Duarte, Head of the Climate Investment Funds.
Trailblazing projects on the African continent, like the Noor solar plant, are proving the performance of CSP. As well as the environmental benefits, the plant results in new, local jobs, and can lead to a high-performing sustainable energy economic sector for Morocco.
Yacine Fal, AfDB resident representative in Morocco, said: “Noor solar complex is part of the innovative operations of AfDB in the energy sector in terms of financing and technology. It stands to serve as an example for Africa and the world about how to create effective pathways to greener and more inclusive economies through renewable energy”.
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