The small sovereign Arab state of Qatar is one of the richest in the Arabian Peninsula due to an enormous income from oil and natural gas.
With such a supply of fossil fuels in Qatar’s backyard, it may come as a surprise that senior officials from the Qatar Electricity and Water Company (QEWC) announced a plan to use solar energy for 10 percent of its electricity supply over the next six years.
In a news conference, QEWC General Manager Fahad Hamad Al Mohannadi stated, “Countries that have opted and developed solar energy have benefited a lot. Presently we are planning to replace 10 percent of total energy used for electricity generation and water desalination with solar power by 2018.”
According to Al Mohannadi, Qatar predicts that energy demand in Qatar over the next several years will be among the highest in the world. The country recognizes the dwindling world supply of fossil fuels may be unable to keep up with demand in the future.
But thanks to an abundance of solar resources and as much as 16 hours of sunshine each day, Qatar is uniquely positioned to efficiently produce electricity with solar.
Solar development is already booming in the country: Qatar Solar Technologies (QSTec) is investing $1 billion in the solar industry within the country by constructing a large solar energy plant. That plant will produce high-purity solar grade polysilicon, a key component in cutting edge solar technologies like solar cells and modules.
When polysilicon from the plant, located in the Ras Laffan Industrial City, is turned into solar modules, it will be responsible for producing enough solar energy to support nearly a quarter of a million homes for an entire year. The Ras Laffan Industrial City polysilicon plant is supposed to be operating by early 2013.
QSTec signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the QEWC to explore more ways of generating solar energy in Qatar and the surrounding region.