Visible from space: world’s biggest CSP solar plant is turned on in Morocco
The King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, yesterday switched on phase 1 of the world’s biggest concentrated solar power (CSP) plant, able to power more than a million Moroccan households.
With 500,000 parabolic mirrors arranged in the baking sun, the first phase is visible from space.
NOOR 1, with a generating capacity of 160 MW, will be joined by NOOR 2 and 3 by 2018, giving a total generating capacity of more than 500 MW.
The first phase of NOOR beats the current record-holder, the Ivanpah CSP plant in the California Mojave Desert, in terms of the number of mirrors, but not in potential generating capacity.
Morocco is the Middle East’s biggest importer of fossil fuels and the NOOR CSP complex is part of its plan to generate 42% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.
CSP is expensive technology, but Morocco secured more than $3bn needed for the Noor-Ouarzazate complex from the AfDB, the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), European financing institutions and the World Bank.
12-m-tall parabolic mirrors concentrate the sun’s rays onto a pipe filled with fluid (ACWA Power)
A consortium led by Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power, and including Aries Ingenieria y Sistemas and TSK Electronica y Electricidad of Spain, won the contract to build and operate the plant in 2012. The consortium will also build NOOR 2 and 3.
At NOOR, 12-m-tall parabolic mirrors concentrate the sun’s rays onto a pipe filled with fluid, which heats up to more than 390 degrees C. This is the heat source for boiling water to make steam. The heat from the fluid can be stored in a tank of molten salts.