noor1Morocco’s king has switched on the first phase of a concentrated solar power plant that will become the world’s largest when completed. The power station on the edge of the Saharan desert will be the size of the country’s capital city by the time it is finished in 2018, and provide electricity for 1.1 million people. Noor 1, the first section at the town of Ouarzazate, provides 160 megawatts (MW) of the ultimate 580MW capacity, helping Morocco to save hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions per year.

“It is a very, very significant project in Africa,” said Mafalda Duarte, the manager of Climate Investment Funds (CIF), which provided $435m (£300m) of the $9bn project’s funding. “Morocco is showing real leadership and bringing the cost of the technology down in the process.” The north African country plans to generate 42% of its energy from renewables by 2020, with one-third of that total coming from solar, wind and hydropower apiece. Morocco hopes to use the next UN climate change conference, which it hosts in November, as the springboard for an even more ambitious plan to source 52% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.

The UK also had some good news with the announcement of the world’s biggest offshore windfarm, to be built off the north-east coast. Dong Energy said its multi-billion pound Hornsea project, which is expected when complete to power as many as 1m homes in the region, will occupy more than 400 square kilometres, situated about 120km off the Yorkshire coast.

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