Local banks have come together to finance Qatar’s first solar-grade polysilicon production plant, a planned $1.1 billion, 8,000-metric-ton facility being built by Qatar Electricity and Water (QEWC) and Qatar Solar Technologies (QSTec), a joint venture of the Qatar Foundation that supports efforts to transform the Gulf Coast country’s economy from a carbon-based to a knowledge-based one.
Doha-based Masraf Al Rayan secured financing for the QSTec-QWEC polysilicon plant in Ras Laffan Industrial City, Stage One of which is expected to be completed in the second half of 2013. “The signing of this deal with Masraf Al Rayan is a significant milestone for QSTec and a major step in the development of a new industry for Qatar — the solar Industry,” stated QSTec CEO and Chairman Dr. Khalid Klefeekh Al Hajri.
Momentum for solar energy is building across the Middle East, as local populations continue to grow rapidly, putting greater demands on water and other scarce natural resources. At the same time, more of an environmental ethic that places greater emphasis on quality of life and preserving biodiversity and the physical environment is taking root.
Solar PV and Sustainable Development in the Middle East
“The development of the solar industry in Qatar brings with it tremendous opportunities,” Al Hajri continued. “The growth in the demand for solar applications and technologies can only expand in Qatar, the region and the world yet will preserve our natural resources at the same time.”
Gulf Coast and Middle Eastern countries have signed on to international accords to reduce CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation by developing more sustainable economies that place greater value on the natural environment and ecosystem services. Gulf Coast oil and gas exporters, including Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, have announced that they are increasingly envisioning a future in which solar PV and other forms of renewable energy play a greater role in their economies.
Less oil-rich Middle Eastern as well as North African Islamic countries see solar and renewable energy resources both as a means to economic development and environmental conservation. Jordan and Morocco, for instance, are attracting investment and ramping up solar, wind, and other renewable energy project development.
The agreement between QSTec and QEWC is seen as a key building block in developing a foundation for a solar photovoltaic (PV) industry supply and value chain that could result in solar PV installations across the region and beyond.
“The interest in alternative energy sources and solar energy in Qatar is present and growing. The development and advancement of solar cell technology and the related industry should be the cornerstone for the future strategy on alternative energy resources,” commented QEWC general manager Fahad Al Mohannadi.
“Over the past several years the region has seen a number of pioneering and strategic efforts to diversify energy resources and develop projects that rely on renewable energy. These are all efforts to help conserve traditional energy resources.
“Together with QEWC’s experience in power generation and water desalination and Qatar Solar Technologies’ efforts in research and development, we will help develop an appropriate framework which addresses the development and effective use of this promising technology in the region.”
Qatar’s solar energy ambitions include using solar energy to realize the aim of making the stadiums being built for the 2022 World Cup, which will be held in Qatar, carbon-neutral.
I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.