World's Largest Solar Plant Coming Soon—To the Sahara

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Written by Guest | Last Updated November 1st, 2019
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Topics: Solar News

rocky mountains with mist

What will be the largest solar farm in the world is getting closer to completion. Phase one of the Noor 1 power plant in Morocco is finished, four years ahead of rolling out the final product in one of the harshest environments in the world.

The scope

The solar farm is currently being constructed near the town of Ouarzazate in the Sahara Desert. Satellite images already reveal 500,000 solar mirrors at the location.

Similar solar farms are already found in desert locations in Southern California and China, among other places. With an abundance of sunshine and plenty of open land, these types of locations are ideal for solar plants.

Though it won't be entirely finished until 2020, Noor 1 will begin operating in some capacity later this year. Phase 1's capabilities will generate power in the capacity of 160 megawatts. This is only about 28 percent of what it will eventually put out. Once it's fully operational, Noor 1 will produce 580 megawatts of solar power, more than any plant on Earth.

The plant will cover an area of 6,178 acres.

The capabilities

Spanish consortium TSK-Acciona-Sener is helping to build Noor 1. It is capable of using heated molten salt to store energy.

Officials from NASA's Earth Observatory have remarked that, "Concentrated solar power plants use the Sun's energy to heat water and produce steam that spins energy-generating turbines. The system at Ouarzazate uses 12-meter-tall parabolic mirrors to focus energy onto a fluid-filled pipeline. The pipeline's hot fluid-393 degrees Celsius (739 degrees Fahrenheit)-is the heat source used to warm the water and make steam. The plant doesn't stop delivering energy at nighttime or when clouds obscure the sun; heat from the fluid can be stored in a tank of molten salts."

Lighting up Morocco

At the beginning of planning stages, it was determined that the European continent would benefit from the power generated by this massive plant by using cables through the Strait of Gibraltar. However, high-level European partners elected to opt out of the project, and African Development Bank and the Moroccan government stepped in to pick up the slack. Currently, plans call for Noor 1 to fulfill Morocco's energy's needs, which experts say will go up in the next few years.

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