Tired of Importing 94% of Its Energy, Morocco Just Made a Very Bold Investment

Morocco is turning innovative ideas into action as the rest of the world watches.

Morocco is winning in the field of energy independence. The city of Ouarzazate, right on the edge of the sunny Sahara desert, is housing the beginnings of what will become a solar superstructure.

Once completed, the complex will harbor several solar mega-plants (in addition to hydro and wind plants) that will supply half of the country's electricity by 2020, according to a report by The Guardian. This development will allow Morocco to regain some of its energy independence and possibly become a provider for European countries.

Unlike the United States, Morocco’s environment minister, Hakima el-Haite, explained to The Guardian in an interview, “We are not an oil producer. We import 94 percent of our energy as fossil fuels from abroad and that has big consequences for our state budget. We also used to subsidize fossil fuels, which have a heavy cost, so when we heard about the potential of solar energy, we thought: Why not?”

By the end of the project, this renewable energy plant "will occupy a space as big as Morocco’s capital city, Rabat, and generate 580MW of electricity, enough to power a million homes..."

Engineers are already putting the finishing touches on its Noor 1 — the first piece of its four plants. It's made up of 500,000 crescent-shaped solar panels that sit in 800 rows — all of them following the path of the sun. By the end of the project, this renewable energy plant “will occupy a space as big as Morocco’s capital city, Rabat, and generate 580MW of electricity, enough to power a million homes,” writes The Guardian's Arthur Neslen. “Noor 1 itself has a generating capacity of 160MW.”

Renewable energy is the future of development. Elon Musk feels “that solar power will be the single largest source of electricity generation by mid-21st century.”

“So we have to try to accelerate that with innovation. That’s what SolarCity is about,” he explained.

The Obama Administration has made its own efforts to increase growth, explains EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, “We have renewables — wind — three times as much as when this president came into office. Ten times more solar than we’ve ever had. And these are becoming competitive technologies.

Part of that is due to innovators, like Musk, advancing these technologies. “That was the goal with Tesla is to try to serve as a catalyst to accelerate the day, the day of electric vehicles,” he explained.

Morocco is turning these innovations into action as the world watches.


Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at PCMag.com where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker

Photo Credit: FADEL SENNA / Stringer/ Getty

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