Morocco has built the world’s biggest solar power plant that will provide electricity for 1.1 million people. The plant, Noor-Concentrated Solar Power (CSP), is being built on the Saharan desert and will be the size of the country’s capital city once it has finished development in 2018. The first phase, Noor 1, has been switched on by the country’s King himself, King Mohammed VI.

Noor 1 provides 160 megawatts of electricity and is located a few miles from the town of Ouarzazate. It will provide solar electricity to 650,000 people until 3 hours after sunset. It stores heated molten salt in which the solar energy is stored, to allow for energy usage and production at night. The difference in CSP and other plants is that CSP does not separate electrons from atoms in photons it uses parabolic mirrors to concentrate sunlight to a fixed point, which is then heated, turned to steam, and runs a turbine to produce electricity.

In the future it will also cut carbon emissions by 760,000 tons a year and some energy will be transported to other regions and even countries. The International Energy Agency estimated that around 11% of the worlds electricity energy could come from CSP. Noor 2 is set to open in 201 and Noor 3 for 2018. When all phases are complete the Noor CSP will generate 500 megawatts of energy for 1.1 million people.

The projected has a funding of $9 billion including investments of $1 billion from KfW, a German investment bank, $400 million from the World Bank, and $596 million from the European Investment Bank. The country announced its plans, at the Paris climate summit, to use solar, wind, and hydropower to generate 42% its energy by 2020 and 52% by 2030.

Morocco is taking a leadership role as the first country in the world take on this revolutionizing step. In November it will host the UN climate change conference and maybe inspire others to do the same.