Morocco launches solar mega-project at Ouarzazate

May 10, 2013
Morocco marathon runners cross an erg, on April 10, 2013 some 300 Kms South of Ouarzazate, in southern Morocco. Morocco on Friday officially launched the construction of a 160-megawatt solar power plant near the desert city of Ouarzazate, the first in a series of vast solar projects planned in the country.

Morocco on Friday officially launched the construction of a 160-megawatt solar power plant near the desert city of Ouarzazate, the first in a series of vast solar projects planned in the country.

The largest of its kind in the world, according to Mustapha Bakkoury, the head of Morocco's solar energy agency MASEN, the thermo- will cost 7 billion dirhams (630 million euros) and is slated for completion in 2015, the official MAP news agency reported.

The ambitious project "reinforces the will... to optimise the exploitation of Morocco's natural resources, to preserve its environment... and sustain its development," Bakkoury said at the ceremony which was attended by King Mohammed VI.

A consortium led by Saudi developer ACWA Power won the contract to build the plant, near Morocco's desert gateway city, last September.

The World Bank, the African Development Bank and the European Investment Bank are helping to finance the solar complex.

It is the first of a two-phase project, due for completion in 2020, that is expected to cover 3,000 hectares and have a of 500 megawatts, enough to met the electricity needs of Ouarzazate's 1.5 million residents.

MASEN's Bakkoury said in March that companies bidding for the second phase of the project had to submit their proposals by mid-April, with the contract to be awarded sometime next year.

The North African country is aiming to become a world-class renewable energy producer, and is eyeing the chance to export clean electricity to neighbouring Europe.

Morocco expects to build five new solar plants by the end of the decade with a combined production capacity of 2,000 megawatts and at an estimated cost of nine billion dollars (6.9 billion euros).

The kingdom has no oil and gas reserves to speak of and is hoping, with the , along with a string of planned wind farms along its Atlantic coast, to raise to 42 percent of its total power supply mix by 2020.

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User comments : 23

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holoman
1.9 / 5 (10) May 10, 2013
Solar and Sand Storms, should be interesting.
italba
3.3 / 5 (11) May 10, 2013
Never heard of compressed air to clean up sand and dust? And do you know that your cellphone's glass coating is harder than sand? Do you work for same oil company or you spread FUD for free?
Howhot
3.7 / 5 (6) May 11, 2013
Sounds like an awesome project, It seems Morocco is leading the way to the future, while we here in the USA have to listen to Republican dribble about how it makes no sense to do solar when there is no global warming problem.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (4) May 11, 2013
Solar and Sand Storms, should be interesting.

It's near the desert not in the desert.
And sand storms aren't like in the movies. Big ones are predictable (yes, even Africans have access to metereological data) and adequate precautions can be taken quite easily.
Ryan1981
3.7 / 5 (3) May 11, 2013
Great news, I hope more will follow :D
wwqq
2.3 / 5 (6) May 11, 2013
Never heard of compressed air[,,,]


They use diesel powered brusher trucks that ride around this endless sea of mirrors and hose them down with water(yes, even in the desert).

This is a CSP plant(parabolic trough). They use motors to track the sun. You know what really grinds my gears? Sand.

In a parabolic trough plant, high pressure synthetic oil flows in a thin-walled pipe in front of each mirror. It's a plumbing nightmare and constantly leaks.

...your cellphone's glass coating is harder than sand?


Twaddle.

You can't use expensive glass for pitiful diffuse energy sources like solar. If your phone was a mirror, it would be a ~0,3W collector.

E.g. gorilla glass is not as hard as quartz, which is a main component ordinary sand.

---

The estimated yearly production from this plant is 370 GWh. That corresponds to a capacity factor of ~26%.

1000 hectares of mirrors for an average of 42 MW, at €15 per average watt, and of course utterly dependent on fossil "backup".
wwqq
2.3 / 5 (6) May 11, 2013
Big ones are predictable (yes, even Africans have access to metereological data) and adequate precautions can be taken quite easily.


Such as putting down tarp and anchoring it over each mirror in an endless sea of 1000 hectares of mirrors? And this is for a mere a mere 42 MW average output.

The gas turbine(or worse, diesel generator) "backing up" this plant(in reality, providing 80% of the power, as per the usual 80/20 ratio) will fit discretely in a small warehouse. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
wwqq
2.6 / 5 (5) May 11, 2013
And as usual, per the projects glossy PDF on the AFDB.org page the €630 million is only for the power plant itself. Not including grid connection, interest, transformers or anything else.

The only advocates of this project are inumerate green morons and fossil fuel humpers.
italba
3 / 5 (6) May 11, 2013
1) In a dry environment compressed air can be as effective, for cleaning, then water. And you don't need a truck to transport it.
2) Gorilla glass is not hard enough, but DLC coating it is. And cost effective too.
3) You have to pay for grid connection, interests, transformers exactly what you have to pay for EVERY KIND of power generator.
Telekinetic
1 / 5 (4) May 11, 2013
wwqq and his ilk are insulating themselves from reality with walls built from their own excrement.
Read it and weep:
http://www.reuter...20120526
Jo01
1.8 / 5 (5) May 11, 2013
The only advocates of this project are inumerate green morons and fossil fuel humpers.


This doesn't have to be the case, per se. But you do have a point that solar enery in itself is not sufficient. Morocco isn't that far from Europe (in fact it's very near) and this means it cannot supply energy when it's dark and everyone needs it and has a super surplus when 'no one' does.
It only works for industry during daytime.
To be effective solar arrays from the other halve of the world should be coupled and that isn't realistic. Another way is to store the energy somewhere: Europe and Scandinavia have a coupled network for example that allows a surplus to be stored by pumping water into basins in Scandinavia.
I would expect that a plan for solar energy would mention the infrastructure and methods to resolve energy surplus and shortage.

J.
wwqq
2 / 5 (4) May 11, 2013
1) In a dry environment compressed air can be as effective, for cleaning, then water. And you don't need a truck to transport it.


I'm not aware of any instance where this is used, not even in deserts.

2) Gorilla glass is not hard enough, but DLC coating it is. And cost effective too.


You wouldn't use DLC on a mirror(hint: what are the optical properties of DLC?).

3) You have to pay for grid connection, interests, transformers exactly what you have to pay for EVERY KIND of power generator.


Wrong on all kinds of levels.

Cost estimates for every other kind of power source except wind, solar and other unreliables include these things.

Unreliables are diffuse and almost by definition the best resource is where the people aren't. You have to pay for the powerlines 100% of the time, even if you use them 10-30% of the time. Grid costs are much higher for unreliables.

Unreliables very often do not pay for grid costs; those are provided as yet another subsidy.
wwqq
2 / 5 (4) May 11, 2013
wwqq and his ilk are insulating themselves from reality with walls built from their own excrement.


The [b]average output[/b] of all those solar panels is a pitiful 2 or 3 nuclear reactors, yet they replace no nuclear reactors and no coal plants because you can never rely on them producing power when you want it.

Germany and Denmark have some of the highest electricity costs in Europe and attrocious CO2 intensity(g CO2 per kWh). Germany is building two dozen brand spanking new coal plants, because pitiful unreliables provide no power when it is needed the most, in the winter. The capacity factor of solar in Germany in winter is 3-4%. Year average is 11%.

Germany has committed to pay €100 billion in FIT subsidies for the solar panels already installed.

Germany is a good example alright; a good example of what happens when you let the numerically illiterate run energy policy. It's like a slow motion train wreck.
Telekinetic
2.3 / 5 (6) May 11, 2013
Put your glasses on, Mr. Magoo-
(Reuters) - German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour - equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity -
italba
2.3 / 5 (3) May 11, 2013
@wwgg: If you where less supponent you would know that DLC can be made in many forms, and, in some of them, perfectly transparent for small ticknesses: See http://www.hindaw...612163/. Anyway even in the the most traditional form DLC is perfectly transparent to near infrared, that is what's neded for termic solar application: See http://www.tydexo...oatings/ . In Morocco's desert you have 355 to 360 sunny days, far more than in Spain, where, since 2011, there is a solar plant able to generate energy 24 hours a day: See http://en.wikiped...er_Tower .
italba
2.3 / 5 (3) May 11, 2013
@wwgg: By the way, the Spanish solar plant has a 185 hectares surface and can give about 20 MW. Your numbers of 1000 hectares and 42 MW are quite wrong.
antialias_physorg
4.2 / 5 (5) May 11, 2013
Such as putting down tarp and anchoring it over each mirror in an endless sea of 1000 hectares of mirrors?

If you really want you can put shutters on them, but it's not necessary. There are 9 solar powerplants in the Mojave desert, which have been operating for 20 years without any protection whatsoever - and they're still doing just fine. (All they do is turn the panels away from the storm direction and then clean them afterwards)
http://www.spiege...2-3.html

I mean c'mon: these are big investments/installations. They have engineers working on this - each of which has a lot more hands-on experience than any of us.
And you think that in the 20-30 years not one of them ever went "Gosh - what about sand storms?". You think that argument of yours is somehow insightful (or novel)?
hangman04
1 / 5 (2) May 12, 2013
Even if this big project doesn't meet it's efficiency expectations, in the end there is a learning curve to all thing we do. The old trial and error, which in this case can be costly indeed, will probably provide the technical know how for the future solar plats from 2020 and beyond.

Also as whole from what i read the technology is slowly but steadily evolving each year ( yes indeed maybe with an avg 0.2% - 0.3% efficiency per year) but on the longer run the effects are more obvious.

I know all hope quantum leaps in every scientific field but that happens usually only once every couple of generations from what i've seen...
RealScience
1 / 5 (1) May 12, 2013


Morocco isn't that far from Europe (in fact it's very near) and this means it cannot supply energy when it's dark and everyone needs it and has a super surplus when 'no one' does.
It only works for industry during daytime. ...
I would expect that a plan for solar energy would mention the infrastructure and methods to resolve energy surplus and shortage.


Jo01 - The first 160 MW phase of Ouarzazate has 3 hours of storage, which means that it can supply electricity during the evening part of the demand peak (after photovoltaics stop delivering).
holoman
1 / 5 (3) May 16, 2013
Hmmm whom to believe ?

Must be some kind of weird math when US DOE invests $ 500,000,000 in
Solyndra solar technology and fails taking down US taxpayer monies.

That's just one of DOE's solar investment's that have failed.

Go figure.
RealScience
not rated yet May 16, 2013
@holoman - And what does Ouarzaate have to do with the DOE or Solyndra?

Solyndra's DOE loan guarantee was for manufacturing a risky new photovoltaic technology that was doomed to fail economically due to high cost and low efficiency.

In contrast Ouarzazate is for installing a proven solar thermal technology, and the DOE isn't even involved.

And as stupid as guaranteeing Solyndra was, if you are just complaining about waste then Solyndra is just ~0.1% of the annual cost of the world's first trillion dollar mistake, the Iraq war. Don't beat a dead horse like Solyndra - complain instead about an ONGOING cost 1000 times as big PER YEAR, which is indirectly a tax-payer subsidy of oil (or do you really think that the Iraq war is about freedom?).
holoman
1 / 5 (3) May 17, 2013
Like I said bro.

Hmmm whom to believe ?

I'm still don't believe the long term pay back on solar. Ask me in 20 yr.
italba
1 / 5 (1) May 18, 2013
@holoman: If you only talk about money, maybe you're right. Let's stop with solar, wind, hydro, everything and choose the most economical fuel we have: Coal! And don't bother either with filters, sulphur and micro-particle traps, all those green-liberal toys that costs a lot to the honest taxpayer! Burn it in open air! China is doing it, should we pay our energy more then theirs? And just think what a wonderful opportunity for a whole new class of products: Personal air cleaners for houses, big ones for shopping centres and offices, gas masks and protective suit when you want to take a walk. And don't forget the big expansion that the healthcare and the funeral business will have! That's the right way to go, for same Republican idiot. Unfortunately I couldn't ask you in 20 years. If we go that way, for sure, in 20 years we will be here no more.