HM King Mohammed VI chaired on Thursday, the official commissioning ceremony of the first plant of the Noor Ouarzazat solar complex (Noor I), and the official launch of the construction works of the second and third plants (Noor II and Noor III) of the largest concentrated solar power (CSP) plant in the world.
Noor Ouarzazate, the World’s Largest Solar Power Complex
Built in the southern Moroccan province of Ouarzazate on an area of more than 3,000 hectares, the three-plant Noor-Ouarzazate CSP complex is estimated to reduce the country’s energy dependence by about 2 and half million tons of oil, while also lowering carbon emissions by 760,000 tons per year.
The Ouarzazate solar complex, carried out under the independent power producer (IPP) scheme, is also associated with a research and development platform which covers more than 150 hectares.
Noor Ouarzazate is the first solar power project run by the Moroccan Solar Energy Agency (MASEN), and is expected to supply power to 1.1 million Moroccans by 2018.
The first phase of Noor Ouarzazate “Noor I”, which covers over 480 hectares, has a generating capacity of 160MW and is equipped with a thermal energy storage device allowing it to operate at full capacity for 3 hours without sunlight (after sunset or cloudy weather).
The project’s Noor 2 and Noor 3 phases are to follow throughout 2016 and 2017 and a call for tenders is open for Noor 4. Once all phases are complete, Noor will be the largest solar power production facility in the world.
Noor II and III
With thermo-solar cylindrical parabolic troughs and 7 hours of energy storage capability, the 200MW power plant (Noor II) will be built on an area of 680 hectares.
Noor III, which will require an estimated budget of 645 million euros, will be built on an area of 750 hectares. The plant is an installed capacity of 150 MW, which will employ central tower technology with salt receivers and 7 to 8 hours of energy storage capability.
These three projects, combined with the photovoltaic phase (Noor IV), will make Noor Ouarzazate the largest multi-technology solar production site in the world with a capacity of 580 MW and a total investment of over 24 billion dirhams, excluding common infrastructure developed by MASEN and National Electricity and Drinking Water Office (ONEE) for the needs of developers.
The CIF, AfDB and World Bank have jointly supported the 500+MW Noor solar complex, which has been championed by Morocco’s Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN). The CIF channeled $435 million towards the CSP plant, alongside the investment of about $700 million by the AfDB and World Bank, contributing to the $3+ billion total from foreign and multilateral investors.
According to the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) the share of renewable energy in total electricity generation is expected to increase from 4,345 GWh (13%) in 2013 to a target of 5,501 GWh (42%) by 2020 and energy dependency should be reduced through additional electricity production from the 160 MW Noor I and the 350 MW Noor II and III in 2018, all of which will pave the way for economic growth and ultimately generate employment.
Source: maroc.ma, CIF, World Bank. Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory by Jesse Allen, using Landsat 8-OLI data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Caption by Kathryn Hansen.