Power Construction Corporation of China, one of the country's largest hydro and thermal power project providers in terms of both revenue and overseas market share, will complete the world's largest solar plant by energy output－the Noor complex solar plant－in Morocco by 2018, an executive said on Wednesday.
The State-owned enterprise signed an EPC contract for the phase II and phase III projects with the Moroccan government in 2015, as the country is rich in sunlight and is keen to become a major solar power user in the world.
EPC, or engineering, procurement and construction projects, is a common form of contracting arrangement in the construction industry.
Once it is completed, the Ouarzazate province-based solar plant will have a total installed capacity of 510 megawatts.
Wu Wenhao, deputy general manager of PowerChina International Group, the international arm of PowerChina, said the Noor complex solar plant has adopted concentrating solar power, which is more expensive to install than the widely used photovoltaic panels, but unlike them, enables the storage of energy for cloudy days and nights.
Mirrors focus the sunlight and heat up a liquid, which, when mixed with water, reaches around 400 C. The steam gained from this process drives a turbine and generates electrical power.
"As Morocco gets more than 3,000 hours of sunlight a year, the plant will initially provide 1.1 million people with solar electricity," said Wu.
The $2-billion project is funded by the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy and Saudi Power. Under the schedule, the Noor complex project will contribute around 20 percent of Morocco's annual electricity generation in 2018.
This project also is part of Morocco's ambitious solar energy development program, which aims to install 2 gigawatts of solar power capacity by 2020.
He Jingtong, an energy policy professor at Nankai University in Tianjin, said promoting solar industry is an effective method of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, especially in semi-arid and arid regions such as North Africa and the Middle East, where sunlight resources are rich.
"It is also helpful to transfer the pillar business of PowerChina from building hydro and thermal power stations to more clean energy related projects to further diversify its overseas business, as well as expanding its market reach," he said.