Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Compare cell phone plans using Wirefly's innovative plan comparison tool ×
Power Technology

World's Largest Solar Power Plant To Supply Enough Energy For 1.1 Million People (computerworld.com) 298

Lucas123 writes: The world's largest solar power plant is now live and will eventually provide 1.1 million people in Morocco with power and cut carbon emissions by 760,000 tons a year. Phase 1 of the Noor concentrated solar power (CSP) plant went live last week, providing 140 megawatts (MW) of power to Morocco. Phases 2 and 3 will be completed by 2018 when the plant is expected to generate more than 500MW of power. The Noor plant, located in south-central Morocco, will cover 6,178 acres and produce so much energy, that Morocco may eventually start exporting the clean energy to the European market.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

World's Largest Solar Power Plant To Supply Enough Energy For 1.1 Million People

Comments Filter:
  • "that Morocco may eventually start exporting the clean energy to the European market."

    Question:

    If Morocco is just across from Spain, why would Spain pay for the energy (i.e. cost of production, plus payoff of initial outlay, plus transportation, plus the company profits) rather than just build their own?

    It's not like the two are on hugely different latitudes which greatly affect the amount of solar available, and the transportation losses, especially under 50km of ocean at best, must be quite substantial.

    An

    • Re:Excess (Score:4, Insightful)

      by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @12:46PM (#51479481) Homepage Journal

      Maybe the price of land. Maybe Morocco gets fewer cloudy days. being that close to one another does not mean they have the same conditions, Maybe the cost of labor to keep the mirrors clean. And just maybe Morocco had the will to build it while Spain did not.
      I am very sceptical of the claims of solar but this is interesting. I hope it works out well.

    • Re:Excess (Score:4, Informative)

      by spork invasion ( 4443495 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @01:34PM (#51479907)

      The solar plant is near Ouarzazate [cnn.com], which I estimate is about 300 miles from the southern tip of Spain. It's on the edge of the Sahara Desert, which should be a good location for more sunshine. Ouarzazate gets a little over 3,400 hours of sunshine per year [wikipedia.org] while Gibraltar gets about 400 hours less [wikipedia.org]. Also, as you go poleward, the sunlight is spread over a wider area, meaning that it's less intense at any given location. Gibraltar is at the southern tip of Spain, so this gets more pronounced if you go farther north. If you go north to Madrid, you can subtract roughly another 200-250 hours of sunlight [wikipedia.org] each year while being nearly ten degrees latitude farther north. There's also a whole lot less seasonal variation in the amount of sunlight at Ouarzazate than at either location in Spain, making it more suitable for a constant supply of electricity that doesn't require being supplemented by something else.

      The solar plant is actually at a great location, so it probably makes sense for Spain to by their electricity from Morocco than to build their own solar plant. In cold enough climates, the electricity demand might be high enough during winter that, if it can't be met with solar, it would be necessary to build another type of plant to supplement it or to buy the electricity from another country. It's much more cost-effective to have the plant in Morocco.

      By the way, the original plan was to build the plant with European funding and supply the electricity to Europe, but the partners in Europe pulled out [gizmodo.com] requiring the African Development Bank and the government of Morocco to save the project. Obviously the approach made sense to Europe at one point and, now that the plant is being built, might still be lucrative to them.

    • Economics (Score:4, Interesting)

      by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @01:36PM (#51479917)

      If Morocco is just across from Spain, why would Spain pay for the energy (i.e. cost of production, plus payoff of initial outlay, plus transportation, plus the company profits) rather than just build their own?

      A good question and the answers are mostly fairly straightforward. In no particular order here is a non-exhaustive list of reasons why they might decide not to build their own. Not all of these might be the case here but all are possible.
      1) If they build there own it might result in overcapacity which would make the economics not work
      2) Spain isn't in great financial shape so the financing might be a problem
      3) Exchange rate risk. Currently the Euro is relatively strong [xe.com] versus the Morrocan Dirham. This means that 1 Euro can buy relatively more KWh.
      4) Cost of land might be significantly higher in Spain. Spain has about 5/7 the land area with about 4/3 the population.
      5) Politics (need I say more?)
      6) NIMBY [wikipedia.org]

    • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

      Morocco is run by a Monarchy. Extremely powerful leaders make megaprojects like this a lot easier to steam roll over environmental studies/protests etc. Makes land aquisition, rezoning, funding etc etc a lot easier with a royal decree.

    • "If Morocco is just across from Spain, why would Spain pay for the energy (i.e. cost of production, plus payoff of initial outlay, plus transportation, plus the company profits) rather than just build their own?"

      What makes you think Spain doesn't have their own facilities?

      With regards of why paying others instead of doing yourself, you could ask the same basically about everything else. And the answer is, of course, always the same: because of circunstances.

      In this case:
      * Morocco is at a lower latitude, th

      • Spain buys and sells from/to France and Portugal to stabilize its own grid.
        No "country" in Europe is selling or buying power to "stabilize" its grid. That is an utter misconception. Power trading is basically done for monetary reasons only.
        In most cases the deals are "years ahead" or "day ahead".
        Power transfers that occur minutes ahead or "at the minute" or "at the second" are extremely rare. Non of the grids in Europe needs external "help" to keep it stable.
        It is just a matter of "cost" if France e.g. run

    • If Morocco is just across from Spain, why would Spain pay for the energy (i.e. cost of production, plus payoff of initial outlay, plus transportation, plus the company profits) rather than just build their own?

      Firstly, Spain does have their own; one of their chief exports is renewable power into Europe. What Spain will probably do is take advantage of it's proximity to Morocco to establish a connection into their power grid for cheap. From there, let's say that Spain sells power to its own people for say 10 cents a KWH (completely made up figures) and it can buy power from Morocco for 8 cents a KWH (even if it's only during peak usage to keep their own equipment running at a higher efficiency) and sell to the res

    • by Teun ( 17872 )
      Europe is more than Spain.
      Spain has the available land and sun to build similar, as a matter of fact since 2007 they have their own thermal plant called PS10.
      At the moment they have over 50 such stations of about 50MW each.
    • Erm ... you completely lost us at this: and the transportation losses, especially under 50kmof ocean at best, must be quite substantial.
      The transportation loss over 50km is basically: zero

      Why there are plenty of reasons to buy energy from Morroco that is cheaper than you can produce it at home is left to you to figure. The keyword is: cheaper.

      Regarding neighbours: obviously the neighbours are customers until they have built up their own plants. A no brainer that the first who has such plants wins the busine

  • by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @12:56PM (#51479559) Homepage

    To put it into perspective, it's nearly 10 square miles. Pretty big, but in context it's a tiny part of the country.

    This is apparently it, although it looks like this is older photography from before construction:

    https://www.google.com/maps/@3... [google.com]

  • by danbob999 ( 2490674 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @12:58PM (#51479585)

    500 MW is pretty small. Morocco needs much more than that. How can they think about exporting?

    • Assuming the output of the plant is relatively fixed throughout the year and the power use isn't (there's some variance in a lot of places depending on the season) there may be times when there's excess capacity that can be sold. It's also possible for them to expand and add additional power plants to the existing grid. I'm assuming they've got some of the better land for solar in terms of efficiency, so it makes more sense to put the production there if the transmission losses aren't excessive. In that cas
      • I understand, but Morocco consume on average 2.5 GW of electricity, and that will probably only raise as the country gets richer, and with population growth. An extra 500 MW by 2018 won't change much in the net export/import balance of the country.

        • by Teun ( 17872 )
          That's why this is the first such plant in Morocco (and the rest of North Africa).
          Give them some time.
  • I'm guessing that it's never dark in Morocco for more than 8 hours? I would hope the engineers who designed this thing allowed for a generous margin. It would suck to wake up in the morning and not have any power cause the salt went cold.

    • I'm assuming it's not the only source of energy. Solar is not here to replace all forms of energy but if it can sustain a large portion of daily activities (which accounts for more of the power use in North American) then you have a win-win solution. The next step for solar power is storage.

      It's also important to note that the technology and materials used are not done improving so panels will get better and the yield per square foot will increase while the cost continues to decrease. This wiki about solar

      • Re:Night time? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by BlackPignouf ( 1017012 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @02:21PM (#51480405)

        The next step for solar power is storage? Good new from TFA :

        The plant will be able to store solar energy in the form of heated molten salt, which allows for the production of electricity even at night.

        • Yes, for these types of plants yes. The future of solar energy is to avoid having plants all together and harnessing local energy (e.g. your home). This is achieve with solar cells WHICH cannot be stored in the same way.

    • by Socguy ( 933973 )
      This is not the only power plant in the country. The article states that their goal is to generate 42% of their energy from renewables. Considering that these plants run throughout the day and 3 hours after the sun sets (the peak time for power consumption), they will still be relying on traditional plants for the off-peak hour production. Of course a deduction like that would mean that you would actually have to have read the article and not simply jump to the comments to troll.
  • Math (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jklovanc ( 1603149 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @01:33PM (#51479891)

    If the eventual 500 Mw plant will provide power for 1.1 million people that means that the average person uses 455 watts. That is not a lot of power.

    • Translates to about 330 kWh/month per person.

      That's much more than my household is using now (about 350-400 kWh/month for the past two months; it's a cold winter). Yearly average is more like 300 kWh/month. That's like 100 kWh per person per month. Another 200 kWh/month left for use elsewhere: trains, restaurants used, office, school, etc.

      Developed country; lights; TV; computers; washing machine; fridge; heating, water heater for shower; aircon - all electric.

    • by dj245 ( 732906 )

      If the eventual 500 Mw plant will provide power for 1.1 million people that means that the average person uses 455 watts. That is not a lot of power.

      I would say it is probably in the ballpark for a country where central heating/cooling isn't common, and many people may not even have refridgerators. The rule of thumb I use in the US is 1,000 to 1500W depending which part of the country we're talking about.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      455W/person is quite reasonable for a country in northern Africa. Obviously they don't have a lot of heating requirements in winter, and in summer their homes are built to require less cooling than those in other developed nations further north. Also keep in mind that it is per person, so if a family is living in a house their pooled usage isn't likely to be 4x as much as a single person living on their own.

    • Re:Math (Score:5, Informative)

      by Mars Saxman ( 1745 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @02:45PM (#51480663) Homepage

      It's not a lot of power by American standards but it seems totally reasonable for Morocco. When I visited a decade ago, electricity was used primarily for lighting, and virtually all bulbs were compact-fluorescent. Space heaters generally used propane or kerosene, not electricity. Power-hungry appliances like clothes dryers and dishwashers were not at all common, and their cuisine depends far less on refrigeration than ours does.

  • Sell excess energy to foreignors, sure, but not as electricity across the Mediterranean. Since this plant operates at very high temperatures, use a bit of that high-temp heat to produce/reduce something, in effect shifting the energy content to Morocco. Keep Matthew McConnaughey there, we already have too many Lincolns.
  • by Khashishi ( 775369 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @04:43PM (#51481763) Journal

    The first and third photos show parabolic reflectors used to focus light on pipes running the length of the mirrors. The second photo shows a bunch of flat reflectors all focusing light on giant towers. Maybe there are also PV panels on the left side of the image--it's hard to tell.
    Which is it? Or are there multiple parts of Noor, using different technologies?

How many surrealists does it take to screw in a lightbulb? One to hold the giraffe and one to fill the bathtub with brightly colored power tools.

Working...