Researcher Warns Against Importation of Fake, Paper Solar Panels


     The nation’s landscape is full of solar panels that do not light up the environment because they either fake or mere drawings on paper boards. These are imported for use in public projects mainly. Ahmed Benlarabi, who is responsible for Photovoltaic Systems, Research Institute in Solar Energy and New Energies (IRESEN) in Morocco, states that the country has a deliberate policy of removing these fake panels from the market, and replaces them with their products. Bennett Oghifo reports

    Fake solar panels are not easy to identify by non-experts because they look exactly like the genuine ones but do not illuminate. However, to the expert eye, there are easily noticeable features that mark them out.

    Morocco, which hosted Climate Change (COP 22), has a robust solar policy and programme, and Ahmed Benlarabi, who is responsible for Photovoltaic Systems, Research Institute in Solar Energy and New Energies (IRESEN), said the country produces very good panels that require minimum maintenance, adding that the institute has researched various methods of cleaning that would not affect the panels adversely.

    In January 2017, His Majesty King Mohammed VI officially launched the international tests, research and training platform Green Energy Park located in the green town of Ben Guerir, 50 km north of Marrakech. It is “a first of its kind in Africa that will mutualise resources, create synergies and position Morocco as a leader in innovation in the field of renewable energies.”

    Total investment in this project amounted to more than 210 million DH. This pilot project involves developing scientific research, optimising the exploitation of Morocco’s natural resources, preserving its environment, sustaining its economic and social development, and ensuring better future for next generations.

    This platform, developed by the Institute for Research in Solar Energy and New Energies (IRESEN) with the support of the Ministry of Energy, Mines, Water and Environment and the OCP Group is conducting research on priority topics. Research covers all steps in the chain: R & D, Basic components to complex systems in order to meet national and African needs

    Indeed, topics such as the treatment and desalination of water using solar energy, the development of desert modules, the design of innovative thermal and electrical storage solutions and the development of industrial applications of solar thermal are at the heart of Green Energy Park’s concerns.

    Built on an 8-hectare site, the Green Energy Park has an internal research platform of more than 3,000 square meters that integrates several laboratories within solar photovoltaic and solar thermal areas.

    It also includes a laboratory for the production of photovoltaic thin film and surface treatment cells, a laboratory for the electrical characterisation and optical of photovoltaic cells, an internal laboratory for the production and testing of solar components, a laboratory for the study of solar cells degradation Materials, a laboratory for surface characterisation, a laboratory for deflectometry and optical modeling of CSP structures, and a center for calculating and modeling resources.

    The Green Energy Park also includes an outdoor research platform consisting of several test and characterisation areas, including real-scale pilot projects covering a total area of ​​6.5 ha. This platform is a space for innovation and entrepreneurship that is attractive to both academic and socioeconomic worlds.

    Green Energy Park was established to be the first testing, research and training platform on solar energy technologies in Morocco and in Africa. Green Energy Park’s inception was lead by the Institute for Research in Solar Energy and Energies Nouvelles (IRESEN) with the support of the Kingdom’s Ministry of Energy, Mines, Water and Environment and the OCP group. IRESEN aims for Green Energy Park to become an international center of excellence and already counts numerous joint research, innovation, project and financing agreements with a number of national and international universities, research centers, development organisations and private companies.

    Enerray contributed to the realization of Green Energy Park by constructing the first CSP-ORC system, with a 1 MWe capacity. The technology of this project is based on a CSP (Concentrating Solar Power) solar field (linear fresnel), using a Thermal Oil as heat transfer fluid, and an ORC (Organic Rankine Cycle) system provided by Exergy, a company of the Maccaferri Industrial Group.

    Electromechanically, the system has been completed in October 2016. The commissioning is expected within March 2017.

    Furthermore Enerray is currently building a 500 kWe ORC-PLUS prototype, that will be connected to the 1MWe CSP-ORC plant of Green Energy Park. The part of the plant that will be built in the framework of ORC-PLUS will add a Thermal Energy Storage Tank (TES) full of Magnetite that should be able to ensure electricity production for at least 4 hours during sunless hours.

    IRESEN is a research institute created in 2011 by the Ministry of Energy, Mining, Water and Environment, with the participation of several key players of the energy sector in Morocco.