The IFLScience! website reports that Morocco has just switched on the first stage of what will become the world’s largest solar installation. Situated in the Sahara Desert, the plant uses solar thermal technology rather than photovoltaic panels. Curved mirrors track and focus the solar energy to heat oil in pipes. The heat is used to generate steam in order to power turbines. An added advantage of this technology is that the excess hot oil can be used to melt salt which stores the thermal energy for later use at night.
When the plant is completed in 2018, it will cover over 6000 acres, which is larger than the area of Morocco’s capital Rabat. It is estimated that it will be able to generate 580 megawatts or enough energy for 1.1 million people.