Rabat – Morocco has invested $5.2 billion in solar projects so far, with the Noor Ouarzazate complex serving as an example of the country’s potential regarding renewable energy.
In an interview with Forbes, Morocco’s Minister of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development Leila Benali said that she wants the North African country to become a “destination for renewable energy.”
In addition, she expressed her pride in both large-scale and local projects including solar rooftops.
Morocco currently produces 4,030 MW from renewable energy out of a total generating capacity of 11,000 MW. There is an additional 4,516 MW of constructed or planned renewable energy available to the country.
Besides expanding large and small-scale renewable energy projects, according to Benali, the Moroccan government is committed to providing nationwide electricity access to 100% of the population, growing from the current rate which is estimated at 99.4%.
The minister added that she wants “every school, mosque, and home to have electricity,” stating that using microgrids could be a solution to meet energy demands.
While Morocco seeks to meet its domestic energy needs through renewables, the country plans to export energy to Spain, Portugal, and the United Kingdom.
Currently, Morocco has a total capacity in electricity interconnections of 1,400 MW with Spain and Portugal. In the future, these could be opened up to the Iberian Peninsula to export renewables. The Xlinks project seeks to broaden Morocco’s renewables export market to the UK.
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As Morocco prepares to meet domestic and European energy demands, the country’s largest renewable project, a facility serving the highest quantity of solar power in the world, the Noor Ouarzazate complex, is not yet completed.
The 6,000 acre-complex consists of four power stations each using different renewable technologies. They are named Noor I (160 MW), Noor II (200 MW), Noor III (150 MW), and the planned Noor IV (72 MW).
“We are ecumenical about renewable technology,” Benali told Forbes.
Noor I and Noor II, for example, have used parabolic mirrors to direct heat onto a pipe that carries water that is pumped into the power plant.
Noor III uses heliostats technology which directs the sun to a collector on top of a tower. In turn, the concentrated solar power heats up water causing a turbine to turn and produce electricity.
Meanwhile, the planned Noor IV plant is expected to employ conventional photovoltaic cells.
With the first three solar stations adopting Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) technologies, they have the ability to store energy. Noor I has a three hour storage capacity, while Noor II and Noor III each have a seven hour storage capacity.
Benali informed Forbes that the stored solar heat is set to be used for the production of green hydrogen or for desalination purposes.