The king of Morroco just switched on what will be the world’s largest solar power plant in the Saharan desert near Ouarzazate. When it is completed in 2018, the Noor Concentrated Solar Power complex will be the size of the country’s capital city, and it will generate 580MW – enough power to serve 1.1 million people.
Noor 1, the first section of the plant, will generate a substantial 160MW and will be able to provide 650,000 residents with solar power from dawn until three hours after sunset. The project is expected to help Morocco slash its carbon emissions by hundreds of thousands of tons annually. Noor 1 was initially supposed to open in December 2015, but ran into delays along the way.
The massive plant is part of the country’s plan to achieve 42 percent renewable energy by 2020, along with major developments in wind and hydropower. The project cost $9 billion to fund, $435 million of which came from the World Bank and the African Development Bank, in collaboration with theClimate Investment Funds, and the country clearly believes the cost savings will be worth it. CIF estimates that for every 5GW of solar energy a country invests in, the cost of electricity production falls 14 percent. This project alone won’t be enough to reach that goal, but with more renewable development on the horizon, it’s probably only a matter of time.