As part of Morocco’s commitment to draw 42 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2020, a solar thermal plant in Ouarzazate is set to begin operations with the intent of providing power across the city by next month.
The massive plant is designed use the Sun’s warmth to melt salt, which will then hold its heat and be used to power a steam turbine. In its first phase of operations, it is estimated that the plant can generate electricity for an entire Moroccan city for three hours after dark. Eventually, it hopes to supply power that will last for 20 hours a day.
Morocco currently imports its electricity from Spain and has been 98% dependent on fossil fuels, but has recently pursuing renewable sources of energy from wind, water, and the Sun.
The Saudi-built solar thermal plant will be one of the biggest, with panels that will cover the country’s capital, Rabat. This move sets Morocco as a benchmark for numerous other countries seeking to shift towards more sustainable sources of energy, with the UN citing the country for its ambition.
While solar power is feasible only in hot, sunny countries, the once high-cost technology is primed for mass adoption given its falling price and improved capacity for energy storage. With Morocco employing solar energy as a feasible way to manage the energy crisis, it leads other countries to reassess opportunities of sustainable energy and renewables within the context of climate change.