Cover 2500 hectares under Morroco’s baking sun, the Door Solar plant is the world’s largest concentrated power plant and a stunning example of what is possible in harnessing natural energy.
16 April, 2020
Acres and acres of mirrors stretch off into the distance – over 6000 acres of them, or more than 2500 hectares of giant reflective surfaces, capturing the relentless sun’s rays in Northern Africa and transforming them into enough electricity to power the lives of 2,000,000 people a year.
Here in Ouarzazate in Morocco, the sun beats down on the desert more often than not, making it the perfect place to build a solar farm to harvest that naturally occurring energy.
On his way to compete in the Morocco Formula E raced earlier this year, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler driver, and UN climate ambassador, Lucas di Grassi, went to visit the state-of-the-art plant which combines two distinct technologies to generate enough power for 100,000 Formula E seasons.
Using both parabolic and flat mirrors to generate and store power, the plant is now producing 1.8 terawatt-hours (TWh) each year and saving Morocco up to 900,000 tonnes of carbon emissions in the process.
Split into distinct sections, Noor 1 and 2 use the parabolic mirrors which capture the solar rays and concentrate the heat to their centre. There, a tube of synthetic oil is super heated, before the oil travels to the power block to be used to generate steam which in turn is used to create electricity. Part of this heat is also used to heat molten salt which is then stored for when the sun goes down, providing heat for up to seven hours continued operation.
This heat storage is further enhanced by Noor 3, which uses giant, flat mirrors which focus the sun rays at a large tower like something out of a science fiction film. The heat is directed towards the top of the tower which also contains the molten salt and the massive heat – up to 580 degrees Celsius – is once again stored for use during the night.
A fourth section – Noor 4 – is also nearing completion, this time using the more conventional photovoltaic technology to increase the plant’s capacity even further, bringing it to an overall output of some 580MW.
It is a stunning facility that clearly illustrates what can be done in the right environment, to harness natural energy and turn it into usable power.
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