Kahramaa to open Qatar’s first major solar power plant by 2016

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Lars Hammar/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar’s first major solar power station is set to start operations in the next two years, as the country pushes forward with its commitment to increase solar energy production.

A senior official from Qatar’s state electricity and water company Kahramaa has said that the pilot facility in Duhail (in northern Doha) would be on a 100,000sqm site and would produce up to 15MW of energy.

It will be one of a number of sites dotted throughout Qatar that will be used to help meet the nation’s target of producing 200MW of solar energy in the coming six years – enough to power 66,000 homes.

Around 2 million sqm of land is needed to host the solar energy sites to provide enough power to meet Qatar’s targets, the Peninsula reports.

Green pressure

Although Qatar has significant fossil fuel resources, it is under pressure internationally to improve its green credentials.

Cheap, state-subsidized utilities do not help to persuade the population to be energy-conscious, and Qatar has the unenviable reputation as being one of the least energy- efficient nations in the world.

Additionally, Qatar has a booming population which in turn increases the country’s energy needs.

In September, Kahramaa noted a 12 percent rise in demand for electricity over the past 12 months, and as Qatar’s population continues to grow, the expectation is that the nation will be increasingly energy-hungry.

Targets

Last December, Qatar’s Minister of Energy and Industry Affairs Mohammed bin Saleh Al Sada pledged that 2 percent of the country’s energy would come from renewable sources by 2020.

Speaking at the ongoing Solar Qatar Summit in Doha this week, Saleh Hamed al-Marri, head of renewable energy technologies at Kahramaa, is quoted in local media as saying that the Duhail site will be the first of a number of locations used to produce solar power, although he did not specify the number.

Around 60 possible locations have already been identified and a shortlist would be drawn up from that, Gulf Times reports him as saying.

It would appear that the current plans have been refined since al-Marri spoke at the same conference last year, when he announced that solar panels would be installed on top of more than 85 reservoirs in Qatar as a way of meeting the nation’s targets.

However, Qatar still seems to favor several small-to-medium sized sites rather than mega-facilities such as exist in Saudi ArabiaKuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

In October last year, Dubai launched a 59-acre solar production facility, reckoned to be the region’s biggest. It is the first phase of a larger Solar Park project that is expected to ultimately grow to 9,885 acres.

“Given the high cost of land properties we are intending to build the solar power plants in dead and free areas by utilizing various Kahramaa premises and other free space such as the area on top of water reservoirs,” Al-Marri told The Peninsula.

Other solar projects

Earlier this year, Qatar Rail announced that the upcoming public transport system would integrate solar technology.

QR has signed an agreement with Qatar Solar Technologies pledging to embed some 80 megawatts worth of solar technology in the upcoming Doha Metro, Lusail light rail transit system and a long distance passenger and freight rail that is supposed to connect Qatar with Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Solar energy

Qatar Foundation

Meanwhile, Qatar Foundation, the country’s largest single producer of solar energy, is helping with plans to increase its output some 150 percent (by an additional 5MW) over the next few years.

And in June this year, Qatar Solar Energy unveiled what it described as a “first-of-its-kind” solar panel factory in the country.

That facility is striving to become the largest power producer in the region, with an ability to generate up to 300MW of energy a year – enough power for up to 100,000 homes annually.

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