Photo by Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images.
"Maybe one day every desert in the world will have a gigantic oasis of mirrors soaking up sunlight and pumping out delicious clean energy. I certainly hope so..."
The rolling desert hills and fiercely sunny sky of the city of Ouarzazate in Morocco have provided the backdrop for scenes in films like "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962), "The Mummy" (1999), "Gladiator" (2000), and for HBO's "Game of Thrones."
What you may not know is that Ouarzazate is one of the solar energy capitals of the world, thanks to an absolutely massive solar array that officially opened in February 2016.
Oh, and by massive, I mean ... it's so big you can see it from space.
More amazing than its sheer size though is the way it works; these aren't quite solar panels as you might know them.
The solar farm is made of 500,000 curved mirrors that reflect and concentrate the desert sunlight onto a pipe filled with fluid.
The sunlight heats up the fluid to over 700 degrees Fahrenheit, combines it with water, and the resulting steam helps spin nearby turbines — generating energy.
The plant even keeps going past daylight hours by using molten salt, which is great at retaining and transporting large amounts of heat.
All this clever solar tech and innovation is putting Morocco on track to become way more energy independent.
The country currently depends on imports for 97% of its energy but has plans for the solar plant to provide 38% of its power by 2020.
Not to mention, the plant is cutting hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon emissions while aiming to provide over 1 million people with clean electricity.
It's innovative, historic, successful, and frankly, just kinda awesome to look at.
If you find yourself wondering "Can't the U.S. do something like this? We have deserts!" I have good news for you.
Southern California has a massive solar plant of its own. A county in Texas also recently approved a $9 million deal for a 55-acre solar farm that will provide construction jobs and a six-year tax abatement for the community.
Maybe one day every desert in the world will have a gigantic oasis of mirrors soaking up sunlight and pumping out delicious clean energy. I certainly hope so...