Qatar’s renewable energy solutions set to advance significantly in 2019: OBG report
Renewable energy solutions in Qatar are set to advance significantly in 2019 as international bidders vie for the opportunity to build the country’s first utilityscale solar energy facility, according to Oxford Business Group. This follows the acknowledgement over a decade ago that renewables have the potential to add economic value by diversifying energy sources, freeing up natural gas for export and helping to decrease carbon emissions. In October 2018, the Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation, (Kahramaa) announced it had pre-qualified some 16 international power firms for a 500-MW photovoltaic (PV) solar plant located in Al Kharsaah, west of Doha. A request for tenders was expected to follow the pre-qualification round, with the winning bid due to be announced by the end of 2018; however, no update had been released as of February, OBG said in its The Report: Qatar 2019.
In the first phase of operations, the company aims to connect a solar plant with an installed capacity of 350MW to the grid by 2020. The Ministry of Municipality and Environment allocated a 10-sq-km plot of land in Al Kharsaah for the facility, with the site capable of accommodating up to 700MW of PV generation.
The project will be conceived under the public-private partnership framework on a build-ownoperate-transfer basis for a period of 25 years, after which ownership of the facility will be transferred to Kahramaa. The solar project marks a new role for the two most significant Qatari players in the power generation sector: Qatar Electricity and Water Company (QEWC) and Qatar Petroleum (QP). In April 2017, QEWC and QP formed a new joint venture, Siraj Power, holding 60% and 40% shares, respectively. With capital of $500mn, the new entity aims to install 500MW of capacity from solar power by 2020, OBG noted. Kahramaa described the role of Siraj Power in the Al Kharsaah solar project as a strategic national investor, which aligns with the positions QEWC and QP have played in existing independent water and power producers (IWPPs). Both the companies have stakes in every IWPP in the country except Qatar Power Company, in which QP does not own any shares. According to OBG, Qatar has been examining the potential of renewables in its energy mix for over a decade. Launched in October 2008, the long-term economic development plan, Qatar National Vision 2030, prioritises environmental protection alongside the need to harness and optimise the country’s abundant hydrocarbons reserves.
The first National Development Strategy (NDS) for the years from 2011 to 2016 noted that renewables could play an important economic and environmental role in the energy mix as soon as technologies become cost-efficient. The strategy suggested a committee be established with the ministry of state for energy affairs to assess the potential benefits of renewable energy. The National Renewable Energy Committee is currently drafting a national policy for the development of renewable energy. In the second NDS, which covers the period between 2018 and 2022, the topic of alternative energy sources was also addressed. Although the new Kahramaa power station marks the first step towards solar energy on a large scale, public bodies and private companies have been investing in research and pilot projects in the renewables sector for some time, OBG noted in its report.