Could Europe run on Africa’s solar power?

Morocco is proving the potential, of solar power - and it aims to become a net exporter of power in the medium term.

Fascinating article from the BBC on Morocco’s adoption of solar power technology, and its potential as it gets more price competitive with oil:

The country plans to generate 14% of its energy from solar by 2020 and by adding other renewable sources like wind and water into the mix, it is aiming to produce 52% of its own energy by 2030.

This is a long-term project, but given how important electricity is to anything digital, looking to the long-term to secure our power supply is vital.

The encouraging thing about the project is how much better it’s doing than expected:

Noor 1, the first phase of the Moroccan plant, has already surpassed expectations in terms of the amount of energy it has produced. It is an encouraging result in line with Morocco’s goal to reduce its fossil fuel bill by focusing on renewables while still meeting growing energy needs that are increasing by about 7% per year. Morocco’s stable government and economy has helped it secure funding: the European Union contributed 60% of the cost for the Ouarzazate project, for example.

And the EU isn’t doing that purely out of generosity. Morocco is explicitly interested in become an energy exporter in the long term, and as the technology improves, that looks ever more feasible. Solar technology is on the move.

And when I say “move” I mean move:

[…] normally the reflectors can be heard as they move together to follow the Sun like a giant field of sunflowers. The mirrors focus the Sun’s energy onto a synthetic oil that flows through a network of pipes. Reaching temperatures up to 350C (662F), the hot oil is used to produce high-pressure water vapour that drives a turbine-powered generator. “It’s the same classic process used with fossil fuels, except that we are using the Sun’s heat as the source,” says Bayed.

Yes, the reflector actually move, using a trick from nature to increase the energy capture efficiency.

Alongside projects like the Tesla solar island, we’re building a compelling case for a more solar future.

Makes you wonder what happens as solar tech gets better – and smaller – doesn’t it?