The colossal African solar farm that could power Europe
We visit a vast power plant at the door to the Moroccan desert that is helping to define the energy future of the world.
By Sandrine Ceurstemont,
The minibus crosses the vast plateau on a newly paved road. Cracked fields stretch away towards the Moroccan desert to the south. Yet the barren landscape is no longer quite as desolate as it once was. This year it became home to one of the world’s biggest solar power plants.
Hundreds of curved mirrors, each as big as a bus, are ranked in rows covering 1,400,000 sq m (15m sq ft) of desert, an area the size of 200 football fields. The massive complex sits on a sun-blasted site at the foot of the High Atlas mountains, 10km (6 miles) from Ouarzazate – a city nicknamed the door to the desert. With around 330 days of sunshine a year, it’s an ideal location.
As well as meeting domestic needs, Morocco hopes one day to export solar energy to Europe. This is a plant that could help define Africa’s – and the world’s – energy future.