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Down to Earth

Morocco: Kingdom of sun

Morocco may have little to no fossil fuel resources, but the kingdom has its eyes on a brighter future. By 2020 the country plans to produce 42 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, a large portion of it thanks to energy from the sun.

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This week the Down to Earth team explores the seemingly limitless potential of solar power in sun-drenched Morocco. With 3,000 hours of sunlight each year and high irradiation, the North African country is perfectly placed to tap into this inexhaustible resource.

In the southern city of Ouarzazate, famous as the door to the desert, King Mohammed VI has just approved the construction of a 500 megawatt solar plant, "the biggest project known in the world today", according to Mustapha Bakkoury of the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy. It's the first of five similar projects with an estimated price tag of seven billion euros. Critics have questioned whether the cost is extraordinarily exorbitant, but Morocco is confident it has made the right choice by banking on solar power.

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