- Morocco is building the world's biggest concentrated solar power plant
- The technology allows to store heat and make energy on cloudy days, nights
- The country already hosts Africa's largest wind farm
The north-western African nation is building the world's biggest concentrated solar power plant, which will supply electricity to 1.1 million Moroccans by 2018, according to the World Bank.
The plant is being constructed in a 30 square kilometer area outside the city of Ouarzazate, on the fringe of the Sahara desert, famous as the filming location of Hollywood blockbusters like "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Gladiator," and the TV series "Game of Thrones."
The first phase, titled Noor 1, will be operational in the next few weeks, according to officials.
"Morocco stands at the forefront of climate-friendly policies in the region," Inger Andersen, World Bank Regional Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa, says in a report.
"The country is well positioned to benefit from its head-start at a time when other regional powers are beginning to think more seriously about their own renewable energy programs," he adds.
Energy even at night
The Noor complex will use a technology called Concentrating Solar Power
(CSP), which is more expensive to install than the widely used photovoltaic panels, but unlike them, allows to store energy for nights and cloudy days.
It uses mirrors to focus the sun's light and heat up a liquid, which is mixed with water and reaches a temperature close to 400 degrees Celsius. This produces steam, which in turn drives a turbine to generate electrical power.
It's hoped that the project, whose construction was officially launched by Morocco's King Mohammed VI in 2013, will reduce carbon emissions by 700,000 tons per year
and even generate an energy surplus for exports.
Morocco heavily depends on fossil fuel imports at the moment, which currently provide over 97% of its energy
, making the country vulnerable to their fluctuating price.