Noor 1, the first section of the world’s largest solar power plant, has been switched on in Ouarzazate, Morocco

Set on the edge of the Saharan desert, Noor 1 provides 160 megawatts of the plant’s ultimate capacity.

When it is completed in 2018, the solar complex will generate 580 megawatts of power and provide electricity for 1.1 million people. Morocco hopes to generate 42 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2020.

Mafalda Duarte is program manager at Climate Investment Funds, which invested $435m (£300m) in the project.

She said: “Morocco has shown great vision and real leadership with this [project]. In one of the world’s most sun-drenched regions, they’re highlighting the potential for other countries across Africa – and globally – interested in developing solar energy. It also shows the power of public finance in unlocking private investment in developing economies.”

Image by Philippe Roos