While new large-scale concentrated solar power (CSP) projects seem to be on the wane in the U.S. and Europe, they’re just getting started elsewhere. Case in point, Morocco. Earlier this week construction started on what’s being called the largest CSP trough system in the world. The 160 megawatt (MW) Noor 1 CSP system is being built as part of the country’s efforts to get more than 40 percent of its energy from renewable sources—2 gigawatts from solar—by 2020.
ACWA Power of Saudi Arabia and SENER of Spain announced the projects’ construction start on May 13. ACWA is providing the EPC services for the project which will use SENER’s trough collector system—SENERtrough and molten salt energy storage to generate electricity in the absence of solar radiation. The project is the first to be developed for the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN), which is purchasing the power under a 25-year power purchase agreement.
This is just the first phase for the park. “The Noor 1 complex is set to develop into a 500 MW solar park incorporating several utility-scale solar power plants using various solar technologies,” ACWA said. Noor 1 will also have three hours of thermal storage and is now the world’s largest parabolic trough CSP power plant and the first utility size thermal solar generation project in Morocco.
“We at ACWA Power are proud of the fruitful cooperation with the concerned Moroccan entities, in both public and private sectors, and here I would like to commend the professional efforts of MASEN, which managed the tender with full transparency in a record time and the ability to collect and manage a mixture of international financial institutions that each and every one of them had different and special requirements,” said Mohammed Abunayyan the Chairman of ACWA Power. “We have been able, through this project, to effectively participate in the Kingdom of Morocco’s renewable energy strategy which has become a model for the development of renewable energy industry in terms of technology, implementation and cost.”
During construction the plant will have up to 1,000 workers during its 28 month construction period. Ongoing maintenance and operations will create another 60 positions. The project is expected cost more than 500 million euros ($645 million).
Morocco is also building large-scale solar projects at a number of other sites to meet its energy needs. It will build projects at the Ain Beni Mathar Site, Foum Al Ouad Site, Boujdour Site, Sebkhat Tah Site.