Today, His Majesty Mohammed VI of Morocco inaugurated the first phase of the largest concentrated solar power (CSP) plant in the world. When fully operational, the plant will produce enough energy for more than one million Moroccan households.
The three-plant Noor-Ouarzazate CSP complex called NOORo expects to achieve over 500 megawatts (MW) installed capacity, ultimately supplying power to 1.1 million Moroccans by 2018. It is estimated that the plant will 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.
Concentrated solar power is such a promising technology that the International Energy Agency estimates that up to 11 percent of the world’s electricity generation in 2050 could come from CSP. This is especially true in the Middle East and North Africa, a region with abundant solar resources and high hopes of eventually helping to meet the E.U.’s demand for energy.
Despite the potential of CSP, relatively high technology costs, when compared to fossil fuel alternatives, deter utilities from investing. Concessional and public financing were key to lift this project off the ground. The Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy, the government agency focused on the country’s solar ambitions, secured over $3 billion needed for the Noor-Ouarzazate complex from the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), European financing institutions and the World Bank.
-More at WorldBank