Morocco postpones opening of world’s largest solar power plant

One of the solar power fields, in China.  (Xinhua/Yang Shiyao)

One of the solar power fields, in China. (Xinhua/Yang Shiyao)

Morocco has postponed without explanation the inauguration of Noor-1, a solar power plant due to open Sunday 27th December in Ouarzazate, part of what will eventually be the world’s largest solar power production facility.

According to AFP, the communications agency that organised the inauguration on behalf of Moroccan solar energy agency Masen gave no reasons for the last-minute delay.

With an electricity production capacity of 160 megawatts, Noor-1 is supposed to allow Morocco to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

The complex should allow Morocco to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 240,000 tons per year, according to estimates from the energy ministry.

Mostafa Bakkouri, head of Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy, told AlJazeera that this first of a kind complex in Morocco has a cost estimated by 600 euros, and its sponsored by a number of companies among them a Saudi company. He added that the project’s next phases, Noor 2 and Noor 3, are to follow in 2016 and 2017.

According to AlJazeera, Morocco is planning to develop wind energy in addition to solar power, as they’re planning to build the largest basin in the continent for generating wind power in Morocco’s Tarfaya.

Once all phases are complete, Noor will be “the largest solar power production facility in the world”, its developers say, covering an area of 30 square kilometers. They claimed that it will generate 580 megawatts and provide electricity to a million homes.

Morocco has scarce oil and gas reserves, and is the biggest importer of energy in the Middle East and North Africa. The plant is part of a vision to move beyond this dependency and raise renewable energy production to 42 percent of its total power needs by 2020.

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