April 5, 2018

NOOR II and III Giant power plants in Morocco equipped with Kipp & Zonen solar monitoring

By Eduardo de Ugarte Martínez, Business Development Manager at DILUS Instrumentation y Sistemas of Madrid,


Dilus has for many years been the Kipp & Zonen distributor for Spain, working with all the major renewable energy utilities and solar engineering and technology companies. Dilus has supplied and installed over 200 Kipp & Zonen trackers and one of our latest projects is to provide the meteorological and radiometric instrumentation systems for the innovative Noor solar energy complex in Morocco.


Ouarzazate is a town in Morocco at a height of 1160m on a plateau south of the High Atlas Mountains, the name means ‘door of the desert’ in the Berber language. It is home to Morocco’s largest film studios and many ‘desert’ films have been shot there, including Salmon Fishing In The Yemen. It is also an ideal site for solar energy production.

In 2009, the Moroccan government adopted a new energy strategy to increase the share of renewables in the national power mix from around 30% in 2009 to 42% in 2020. Morocco’s 2009 Solar Plan called for the development of 2000 MW of solar energy, starting with the Ouarzazate Solar Power Station (OSPS). This is located 10 km north-east of the town and is also known as the Noor Power Station, noor is Arabic for ‘light’. This is the first in a series of planned developments in the area by the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) and the Noor project is planned to produce an actual 580 MW at peak and is being built in four phases and is expected to cost $9 billion. If you visit the site you will find an ocean of parabolic reflectors and a large solar power tower. It is the biggest thermal solar energy generating complex with ‘molten salt’ energy storage in the world.

How is this project being developed

Noor I, was o­icially commissioned in February 2016 and involved the construction of a 160 MW concentrated solar power (CSP) plant. It has half a million ‘rocking’ parabolic trough reflectors covering 450 hectares. The focused sunlight heats up a transfer fluid which is then used as the energy source for conventional steam turbine electricity generators, instead of oil or gas. Excess energy is used to heat molten salt, which is stored in heavily insulated tanks at about 560°C and can be used to produce steam. When fully charged the Noor I storage system can provide up to 3 hours of electricity a‑er sundown.

Noor II is similar in construction to Noor I but covers 680 hectares and has 200 MW of installed capacity with up to 7 hours of molten salt storage. Commissioning started in January 2018 and will be completed at the end of March.

Noor III is rather di­erent and even larger in area, 750 hectares. It has a 160 MW solar power tower and is due to be fully operational by the end of 2018. Flat mirrors on 2-axis trackers (heliostats) are used to reflect the sunlight onto a receiver on top of a tower that heats up the molten salt directly to generate steam, and also provides up to 7 hours of heat storage.


SENER, a Spanish engineering and technology group, designed and built Noor I and II and is also the technology provider for Noor III. EPC duties are shared with SEPCOIII of China. SENER is a partner in the Ouarzazate consortium, led by ACWA Power of Saudi Arabia, together with MASEN, Aries and TSK. ACWA is also responsible for the last phase of the complex, Noor IV, which will have 70 MW of photovoltaic modules over 210 hectares.

SENER awarded a contract to Dilus Instrumentation y Sistemas in 2016 to design, supply, install and commission the meteorological and radiometric instrumentation systems for Noor II and Noor III. Each solar monitoring station measures direct, global and di­use solar irradiance; based on SOLYS Gear Drive sun trackers with a CHP1 pyrheliometer and two ventilated CMP11 pyranometers. These measurements are used as inputs to the plant solar energy production management systems. Noor II has three stations and the larger Noor III site has four.

Alongside the solar irradiance measurements, it’s also important to measure wind speed and direction because both plants use reflector technologies that can be a­ected by strong winds. Six 2D and seven 3D ultrasonic wind sensors have been mounted by the reflector fields on 20 m high masts that fold down for servicing.

This major project establishes DILUS as a leading company in instrumentation, providing turn-key integrated solutions to the solar energy industry.

Visit Masen en to find out more about solar energy on Morocco.