Moroccan Solar Power Project
Solar power is considered as one of the leading strategies to replacing fossil fuel use with
renewable energy from the sun. There are two ways used to convert the sun’s energy into
electricity or heat: photovoltaic and thermal systems. Photovoltaics use silicon panels to
generate an electrical current from sunshine. This method is useful especially for rural ares
where access to power lines is restricted. Thermal systems heat up water and use the
steam to create electricity.
Morocco’s wish of energy independence has lead to the Noor I Concentrated Solar Power
plant: a 500,000 panel thermal energy facility. It is the largest of it’s kind, and is conveniently
located in one the the sunniest places in the world.
Noor I is projected to be followed by Noor II and III. The entire project, funded by
diversifying Saudi Energy firms as well as the World Bank and the European Investment
Bank, will cost an estimated 9 billion dollars.
This has led Morocco to host the COP22 summit in 2016, and the kingdom to rank 7th in
the world’s Climate Change Performance index.
Evaluation of efficiency
The global capacity for solar power as a source of electricity has grown exponentially,
climbing to about 227 GWE (giga watt electrical) as of 2016. For thermal purposes such as
water heating, the capacity was measured at 406 GWth (giga watt thermal). Futhermore, the
cost of photovoltaic modules has decreased by approximately 81% since 2007, going from
~ $4 per watt down to ~ $1.80 in 2015. According to the 2015 World Energy report, solar
energy in the US costs $103 per MegaWatt, a dollar cheaper than it’s polluting counterpart,
coal. With time, the efficiency of photovoltaics will increase through engineering
advancements such as Perovskite cells.
As for the obvious concern that photovoltaics only work during the daytime, Morocco’s
power plant has found a way to store heated salts and gels, therefore generating electricity
Powering remote locations with solar energy is a big plus; rural areas with restricted access
to power lines can be self sufficient while avoiding sound pollution (unlike wind farms).,
“The energy that
the sun provides
to the Earth for
one hour could
meet the global
energy needs for
On the other hand, disposal and recycling of photovoltaic panels must be closely
monitored, as they can present a threat to the environment. Another disadvantage is that
storing energy harnessed from the sun requires large and costly batteries. Besides, it is
estimated that the initial setup for home photovoltaics is $1000; a sum that a minority of
families in periphery and semi-periphery counties have available up front.
Heavy financial incentives from governments or a great reduction in initial price are the only
way to substitute cheaper – but co2 heavy – alternatives. Keeping economics in mind,
harnessing the sun’s immense power seems like the most plausible replacement for fossil
Morocco seems to have a good head start on managing their co2 emissions as well as
generating meaningful local employment and gaining energy independence, possibly even
exporting it to Europe in the future.
Rinkesh. “Pros and Cons of Solar Energy.” Conserve Energy Future. N.p., 24 Dec. 2016. Web.
“Solar Energy (Renewable and Alternative Energy).” Renewable and Alternative Energy (Penn State
Extension). N.p., n.d. Web.
“Wattage.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 04 Feb. 2017. Web. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Watt>.
World Energy Resources | 2016. N.p.: World Energy Council 2016, 2016. Www.worldenergy.org.
2016. Web. <https://www.worldenergy.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/World-Energy-ResourcesFull-report-2016.10.03.pdf>.
Used by permission of the World Energy Council.