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Our Moroccan friends are an example for the world!
12/02 - 2016

Our Moroccan friends are an example for the world!

When André Borschberg and I landed in Morocco during our 2012 flight mission, there was only one promise: the construction of the world’s biggest solar thermal power plant was soon to start in Ouarzazate. As patrons, we symbolically brought the first solar cell with us from Switzerland and offered it to Mustapha Bakkoury, Chairman of the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN).


On February 4th, His Majesty the King Mohamed VI’s vision became a reality. For years, a lot of people have talked about clean technologies, but Morocco has done the work. NOOR 1, the first 160 megawatt power plant, was inaugurated during an impressive official celebration.


In the middle of the desert, thousands of mirrors reflect the sun’s rays to heat water that runs a turbine to produce clean electricity, cutting CO2 emissions by 240’000 tons per year and creating several thousand jobs. The molten salt technique allows energy storage for 3 hours. But this is only the first part. With NOOR 2, 3 and 4, Ouarzazate will reach half a gigawatt, with storage capacity of 8 hours. This means that enough heat will be produced and stored everyday to allow electricity production at night. Who says solar energy production is only possible during sunny days?


The King’s program, presented at COP21 is clear: 42% renewable energy in Morocco by 2020 and 52% by 2030. The inauguration of NOOR 1 indicates that these goals will be reached. Morocco is an example for the world, and is already recognized for its ambitious energy policy, as the host of COP22 next November.


I will come back to this point in a few weeks, when the ceremony will take place, signing the agreement at the UN headquarters in New York on April 22nd.


Bertrand Piccard