PICS: The World's largest solar plant has gone live - and it's visible from space

2016-02-29 10:36 - Louzel Lombard
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Cape Town - Morocco has activated what is to be the world's largest solar power plant in the Sahara desert, near the city of Ouarzazate. 

The King of Morocco, His Majesty Mohammed VI, has officially opened the first phase of what will eventually be the largest global CSP plant - the same size as Morocco’s capital city Rabat.

Naturally, the reflective plant is also visible from space!

This plant, according to Climate Investment Funds (CIF), will be capable of powering one million homes within the next two years. Once Noor I, Noor II and Noor III are up and running, the facility is projected to supply 1.1 million Moroccans with more than 500 megawatts of power by 2018, while reducing carbon emissions by 760 000 tons per year, which could result in an estimated reduction of over 17.5 million tons of carbon emissions over 25 years!

Noor-Ouarzazate power complex uses concentrating solar power (CSP), which enables energy to be stored for nights and cloudy days. 

The process, simply put, works like this: 

Sun rays hit the solar power plant's mirrors, heating up a liquid. 

This liquid, mixed with water, then reaches temperatures of up to 400°C. 

Steam produced from this heated water facilitates a turbine which then produces energy. 

For the energy to be stored and used on cloudy days, or at night, a cylinder of salt melts by the warmth of the mirrors during the day and stays hot enough to produce power for up to three hours at night. 

Ideally, the plant could eventually start exporting energy to the European market, the World Bank says. 

In collaboration with the World Bank and the African Development Bank, the CIF has already provided billions into this three-phase Noor CSP complex in Morocco.

Take a look at the Noor-Ouarzazate power complex: 

In South Africa, in collaboration with International Finance Corporation (part of the World Bank), CIF is providing about R5.3 billion (from $330 million) to the country’s first public and private CSP plants, including the KaXu project, the first utility-scale CSP plant to operate in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The construction phase has brought over 1 000 jobs to the Northern Cape, providing some hope for the high rate of youth unemployment in the Pofadder area. The plant is slated to power 80 000 South African households while mitigating around a quarter of a million tons of CO2 emissions per year, which is equivalent to the emissions of close to 53 000 cars a year.

Compared to Morocco's plant, KaXu Solar One has a total installed capacity of 100 MW plus 2.5 hours of storage in molten salts.

The project also contributes to South Africa's goals of achieving up to 17 800MW of renewable energy by 2030, and reducing its dependence on oil and natural gas.

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