Qatar’s re­new­able en­ergy so­lu­tions set to ad­vance sig­nif­i­cantly in 2019: OBG report

Gulf Times - Gulf Times Business - - BUSINESS - By Pratap John

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.

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