On the other side of the Mediterranean, efforts to move towards more sustainable energies are also being felt. Morocco, with one of the largest solar power plants in the world, that of Noor, in Ouarzazate, and energy transition objectives comparable to those of its northern neighbors, illustrates the path opened in Africa, which places in it the hope to obtain a new source of income that stimulates the development of the poorest continent.
With a very ambitious plan to promote renewable energies, Morocco is at the forefront of a continent seeking to reduce its energy dependence and that at the same time, he sees in the export of energy to the developed countries an option which passes from the Maghreb to the Middle East and, from there, to sub-Saharan Africa. Thus, by 2030, Morocco aims for more than half of the country’s energy consumption, 52%, to come from clean energy.
To achieve these goals, there are many megawatts of sun, air and water that the Maghreb country will need to add to its energy mix. Some of them have already been incorporated thanks to the start-up of part of the Ultrasolar plant in Uzazate, gateway to the desert which is today the cradle of the sun’s energy capture, which shines in this corner of the world almost all year round, specifically for 330 days.
At this location in southern Morocco, it already operates one of the largest solar power plants in the world, after the completion of Noor I last year, the first of the planned phases. With around 160 megawatts of power, the first section of the plant enables tens of thousands of homes to be supplied with energy captured by the sun. These facilities continue to produce for three hours after the sun goes down, with energy storage in reserves with molten salts based on sodium and potassium nitrates.
The plant will continue to grow once Noor II and Noor III are completed, two phases underway with an investment of 1.8 billion euros which, like the infrastructure already in operation, will be equipped with cylindrical mirrors for capture energy. The Moroccan authorities estimate that once the construction of this plant is completed, no later than 2020, it will contribute 2,000 megawatts.
This mega solar power plant is joined by more projects to bring Morocco closer to its energy transition goals. Among them, for example, one of the most recent is that of a solar power plant in Midelt, with an expected output of 800 megawatts. This initiative is closer to becoming a reality after securing external funding from the KFW Development Bank, the World Bank and the African Development Bank, among others.
The Moroccan dynamic for clean energy is spreading throughout Africa, with factories under construction in the Middle East and South Africa, as well as in Rwanda, Uganda or Ghana; countries which can find in the sun an alternative to supply and, perhaps, to produce energy for the outside and, with it, to find a new means of income for the continent.
More information: Noor, in Ouarzazate.