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Morrocan Solar Power – ramping up the alternative energy momentum


The Moroccans have announced a project to invest 9 billion dollars in a 2000 megawatt solar energy production system located where else but in a handy local desert or two. We’re talking 10,000 hectares of array, sucking the power out of 3000 hours of bright sunlight. Neat.

There is one puzzle though (and it’s not just the weird headline which implies the country is forgoing solar energy). The article claims that Morocco spent $6 billion in 2008 on oil products for energy, and this solar array will reduce the need by 42% when completed in 2020.

My question is this. If the payback on the deal is a mere 4 years, why on earth not go for the whole deal and aim for total self-sufficiency in the one project? Or am I missing something? And wasn’t there a map recently that showed the whole world could be served with electricity from one giant solar array in a desert somewhere in North Africa? (oh yeah here it is).

 According to AFP, the project will be located in five locations, to be completed by 2020 and all of them will cover 10,000 hectares. One plant will be located right at Ouarzazate and will have a capacity of 500 MW and the other four will have a capacity of 100 to 500 MW. After being done, this project will lead to annual savings of one million tons of oil equivalent of 500 million dollars and CO2 emissions of Morocco will be reduced by 3.7 million tons annually…


  • The reason they're not going for complete solar energy use may have something to do with no power being generated at night. My understanding is the boffins have yet to figure out a way to reliably store solar generated electrickery overnight.

    Of course there may be other reasons.

    • Dan:
      If you have been keeping up with some of the news from the recent solar show in Anaheim, you will be aware that energy can be stored for up to 7 hours overnight (with current technology) so I suggest it is just a matter of time before that gets increased to 12 hours.
      In the future, I see electricity being able to get generated in one part of the daylight areas of the world, and transmitted to areas in darkness.
      Much as the www links everyone, we could well have an international power grid in future. It isn't as far fetched as it may sound.
      The Japanese plan to send power from space to earth – so why could we not send power from earth to space and back again? It just needs a few forward thinking folks like you and me to get the idea out there.

  • As Dan says, there is the storage factor. Morocco is also quite well situated for wind power so they probably can get some from there. When CSP and Storage is worked out then they will probably dive in and produce enough to become an energy exporter.

  • Allow me to introduce a brainchild of mine, Project Genesis Morocco, it is an energy geopolitical vision for Morocco; A Morocco that could evolve in a matter of years from being a consumer of energy and a country facing water shortages issues, into the number one producer both of clean renewable energy and water for the region through solar power production and solar powered desalination.

    The 42% figure concerning the 2000 Megawatts capacity that is in the works is incorrect, actually the projected capacity represents 38% of the total energy production capacity in 2008 and 14% of the total energy production capacity by 2020.

    Project Genesis Morocco as I envision has still greater ambitions, it would not only provide for a 100% of the country energy needs, but a large overproduction capacity would developed enabling Morocco to export electricity to Europe through the existing and upgraded linkage to the European power grid.

    This vision relies heavily the prime geostrategical position of the country and of an exceptional proximity to large energy and water markets such as Europe, North Africa and the MEA. Projections indicate global electricity demand will increase 80% by 2030, as for water several countries are already facing shortages and the trend seems to be on the rise.

    From Morocco

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