Noor Solar Power Plant, Morocco

The Noor solar plant is a flagship project launched under the ambitious energy policy of the Moroccan Kingdom. It is located in the municipality of Ghessate, in the Southern province of Ouarzazate, which is famous as a filming location for Hollywood blockbusters like “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Gladiator”. Construction of the first phase of the project – Noor I – began in 2013, and reached completion in 2016. On 4 February 2016, King Mohammed VI chaired the commissioning ceremony at the first plant, and officially launched the construction of phase II and III of the solar complex.

While Noor I and Noor II use concentrated solar power (CSP) technology to generate electricity with the help of 12-metre-tall mobile parabolic mirrors, Noor III will introduce a technological variation of CSP technology, by using a solar tower. The fourth phase will use photovoltaic technology.

HeidelbergCement’s subsidiary Ciments du Maroc was the exclusive cement supplier for the first phase, and is the main supplier for the last two phases. The company has so far supplied 45,000 tonnes of cement.

All involved members of the staff from the commercial, production, and logistics teams of Ciments du Maroc gave their all to meet the immense challenge of this major project: not only was the construction site located 250 kilometers away from the Marrakesh plant, but the cement trucks had to cross the 2,260-metre high Tizi-n-Tichka mountain pass to come down on the other side of the Atlas mountains.

“Thanks to good organisation, we managed to deliver all of the cement on time to our customer ‘Equipement Ouarzazate’, one of the contractors in the first phase,” said Hassan Ouchtou, Sales Manager at the Marrakech plant. “We dedicated a silo and a special loading shift to the project. The convoy of trucks with bulk cement travelled by night to arrive at the Noor construction site very early in the morning,” he added.

During the three years of construction, the initial phases of the project created approximately 1,000 construction jobs. Now, following completion in February, a staff of 60 people – mostly maintenance engineers – run the solar complex. To train these highly skilled people, Morocco is developing a complete study program with focus on renewable energies as one of the main drivers of the nation‘s economy.

The plant will initially provide 650,000 local people with solar electricity from dawn until three hours after sunset. This is the peak period of electricity consumption in Morocco. By the time the project reaches completion in 2018, power capacity will be at 580 MW, with a storage capacity between 7 and 8 hours, allowing provision of power day and night to 1 million homes.

The Noor solar power plant is the first of the country’s program for renewable energy. Four other solar plants will follow, so that 2 GW of electricity will be available by 2020 to meet the energy needs of the country that currently depends on imports for as much as 95% of energy demand. Morocco‘s solar plant policy will also contribute to the worldwide effort to reduce global warming. As host to the United Nations Climate Conference (COP 22) at Marrakech in November 2016, the country is thereby setting an excellent example.

Noor I is expected to help fight global warming by offsetting 240,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. Noor II and Noor III combined will help offset 533,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. After completion, the entire Noor solar complex will thus reduce global CO2 emissions by an estimated 760,000 tonnes annually.

Ciments du Maroc is proud to have taken part in this milestone project that will contribute to a better world, especially for future generations.

Avenue Moulay Rachid