Morocco’s first solar-powered desalination starts up

Morocco’s first solar-powered desalination plant has started operations near Marrakech.

The pilot Aquasolar project cost MAD 4.45 million (US$ 450,000) and was financed entirely by Morocco’s institute for solar and new energies research, Iresen.

The mobile plant is modular and powered by photovoltaic (PV) and thermal solar technologies to desalinate 120 m³/d according to Iresen.

The plant comprises 57 PV panels with a combined capacity of 10 kW and 18 solar thermal panels rated at 14 kW to fuel reverse osmosis and membrane distillation. The reverse osmosis uses electricity from the PV cells while the membrane distillation process is powered by the solar thermal panels.

The “innovative” combination of two technologies for desalination and two solar technologies optimises the volume of processed water and keeps brine production to a minimum Iresen said.

The price of one cubic metre of potable water produced by the device is estimated at MAD 8 (about US$ 0.8) over an operation time of 10 years, said Iresen.
Aquasolar was implemented in the National Energy Centre of Nuclear Science and Technology by academia and industry including: the universities, Moulay Ismail and Hassan II; Moroccan company, LSA Industrie; and Spain’s Solar Platform of Almeria.