The moroccan town of Ouarzazate became famous when his desertic landscapes and sunny weather atracted Hollywood producers to film movies like Lawrence of Arabia, Star Wars and Gladiator. Now it's time for it to shine with a new light. The recently opened Noor solar power plant is the biggest in the world. It will power Morocco and, if everything goes as planned, will make imported solar energy a reality.
Since this country is the largest importer of fossil fuels in the Middle East and North Africa, in 2009 they launched a program to source their power requirements from renewable energy. By 2020 they hope to generate 14% of their energy consumption from solar stations and the plan is to go up to 20% by 2030.
Besides changing the landscape and providing clean energy, this plant is already making a positive change in the ife of the neighbouring inhabitants. Hundreds of locals, that used to travel to nearby bigger cities for work, were employed in the construction of the plant. And now that it is finished there are plans to produce the solar panels in the town - instead of buying them from abroad - in order to generate permanent jobs.
The whole idea is an excellent example of how it's possible not only to provide clean energy, but also to create new opportunities for the development to people. This positive change can go beyond the frontiers of North Africa, as Mustapha Sellam, the site manager of the plant, says: “Our main goal is to become energy-independent but if one day we are producing a surplus we could supply other countries too”.
Altogether, doing similar projects in countries that can enjoy the sunlight throughout the whole year could be the begining of a world powered by clean energy, even if the sun doesn't shine in your country every day.