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Solar Energy Production Progresses in Morocco

In support of Morocco's ongoing efforts to develop its renewable energy resources and reduce its dependency on fossil fuels, the World Bank has approved the US$519 million phase two and phase three expansion of the Ouarzazate Solar Power Station (OSPS) which will provide up to 1.1 million Moroccans with a source of clean renewable energy by 2018. Located in the Ghessat rural council area of Souss-Massa-Drâa, around 10 km from the town of Ouarzazate, the OSPS covers an area of 2,500 hectares with phase one of the project, referred to as Noor 1 CSP (concentrated solar power), already under construction. The first phase of the project will supply 160 megawatts of energy, while phase two and three are set to provide 350 megawatts as well as the installation of solar thermal collectors and solar energy tower. It is anticipated that the plant will be operational in the second half of 2015.

Currently Morocco is the largest energy importer in the Middle East, relying on imported fossil fuels for more than 97 percent of its energy requirements. The Noor-Ouarzazate Solar Power Station will enable the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) to increase both its capacity and output. With up to 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, Morocco has one of the highest rates of solar radiation in the world and has great potential for harnessing the power of the sun. The public-private venture, MASEN, will be leading solar power projects in the country with the aim of providing up to 18 percent of the country’s annual electricity requirements by 2020.

Concentrated solar power makes use of mirrors or lenses to capture a large area of sunlight and concentrate it onto a small area. When the concentrated light is converted to heat, it drives an engine which is connected to an electrical power generator, thereby generating electricity. Spain is currently the world leader in CSP, and Spanish consortium TSK-Acciona-Sener is collaborating on the technology of the OSPS.

In addition to funding from the World Bank - $400 million of which will come from the Bank, with US$119 million from the Clean Technology Fund administered by the Bank – the project is supported by the African Development Bank, European Investment Bank, European Commission, Kreditanstalt fuer Wiederaufba, and l'Agence Française de Développement.

Travel

Visiting the 'Gateway to the Sahara'

Located in Guelmim-Es Semara region of southern Morocco, Guelmim is both the region's largest city and its capital. Alternatively spelled Guelmine, Goulimine, Guelmime and Glaimim, the city considers itself to be the 'Gateway to the Sahara' and is the point at which the N1 and N12 highways cross, linking it to the neighboring region of Souss-Massa-Drâa. The majority of the citizens of Guelmim speak the Hassaniya dialect of Arabic, originally spoken by the Beni Hassan nomadic tribes that dominated the region from the 15th to 17th century.

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Features

History and Culture in the Museums of Marrakech

Housed in the Dar M'Nebhi Palace in the historic center of the city, the Museum of Marrakech offers visitors a window into the history and culture of Morocco. Built in the late 1800s by Mehdi Menebhi, the palace is a superb example of classical Andalusian architecture which was restored by the Omar Benjelloun Foundation* and opened to the public as a museum in 1997. Traditional seating areas, a central courtyard with fountains, exquisite tiling, mosaics and wood carvings, as well as a traditional hammam are all features of the palace. The atrium of the museum is covered in fabric and glass with an unusual chandelier-style decoration hanging in the center, catching and reflecting the light. Exhibits at the museum include collections of traditional and contemporary Moroccan art, along with historic books, pottery and coins representing Moroccan Jewish, Arab and Berber cultures.

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Solar Energy Production Progresses in Morocco

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