The plans for a giant solar plant in the Moroccan desert have moved ahead with the announcement that the Desertec Industrial Initiative plans to begin construction in 2012 on the first of many renewable energy power stations that would together supply 15 percent of Europe’s electricity by 2050.
In a short statement on its website, the German-led consortium said it will start building its first power plant next year, a 500-megawatt (MW) facility in Morocco that could cost €2 billion ($2.74 billion). That’s roughly half the size of a typical nuclear power station. Dii's reference project in Morocco, and subsequent projects in Tunisia and Algeria, are the first stages in the desert energy project. "It's all systems go in Morocco. We have secured the support of politicians and investors," said Paul van Son, CEO of the Dii initiative.
“The first phase of the 12-square-kilometre Moroccan complex will be a 150 MW facility costing up to €600 million ($824 million) that will take two to four years to build,” Desertec said. The plant is expected to be a solar thermal station that would use mirrors to heat up a fluid, create steam and drive a turbine.
Although several energy companies are backing off solar thermal in favor of photovoltaic electricity now that the price of photovoltaics is declining, Desertec remains one of solar thermal’s biggest champions. Photovoltaics generate electricity directly by using solar cells embedded in solar panels.
Desertec will also use wind stations as part of the ambitious project that it announced in the summer of 2009 and which could cost $400 billion to build a series of renewable energy plants in N. Africa, the Middle East and in Europe. It would transmit N. African electricity via Mediterranean subsea cable.
Desertec Industrial Initiative (Dii) is part of the Desertec Foundation, which aims to reduce CO2 emissions by generating clean power in deserts around the world. Dii focuses on Europe, N. Africa and the Middle East.
More Photovoltaic News
And, in other development news, French solar company Tenesol is set to install photovoltaic (PV) systems on 26,000 homes in rural Morocco in partnership with the country’s National Electricity Office.
The project will bring solar power to more than 163,000 people who previously had no access to electricity. The project is scheduled to be complete by 2018 and is expected to cost €25m.
Subsidiary company Temasol will supply, install and maintain the systems. The PV modules will be connected to a battery allowing to store the power generated and use it throughout the night.
In addition, Temasol will construct solar heating systems, solar generators for remote telecommunications infrastructure and grid connected PV plants throughout the country.
Jacques Mathan, export sales director at Tenesol, said, ‘We are delighted to be involved in this life changing and highly rewarding project.
Rural electrification is a major part of a country’s socio-economic development and this project reflects Morocco’s commitment to assisting and improving rural communities. Many of the families we work with have never had access to electricity but solar energy is fast becoming the renewable answer to their power needs.