Clean Power

Published on August 3rd, 2014 | by James Ayre

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Qatar Solar Energy Makes Deal With Kazatomprom To Boost Qatar’s Renewable Energy Production

August 3rd, 2014 by  

Qatar Solar Energy and the multi-billion dollar Kazakhstan-based energy company Kazatomprom recently signed a ‘landmark’ agreement that will see large quantities of solar grade silicon provided to the MENA-region-based solar company at a ‘very low’ fixed cost for the next ten years.

The agreement is especially interesting when you consider the fact that as demand for raw polysilicon is likely to grow substantially over the next decade, Qatar Solar Energy (QSE) appears to have positioned itself quite well in that regard — though I guess that we’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out.

Image Credit: QSE

Image Credit: QSE

The deal was signed by QSE CEO Salim Abbassi and the Chairman of Kazatomprom’s solar division, Mr Azat Betekbaev.

The press release provides some background on Kazatomprom:

Kazatomprom, ranked as the world’s largest producer of uranium, has been active in renewable energy since 2009. The company implements a number of high tech innovative projects in the sustainable energy sector including the production of photovoltaic modules (Astana Solar), the production of ingots, wafers and cells (Kazakhstan Solar Silicon) and solar grade silicon production (Kaz Silicon).

Speaking about the deal, Mr Abbassi commented: “This partnership allows QSE to secure the entire value chain from raw material to smart-grid development and provides a powerful foundation from which QSE will further expand its production capacity to 2.5 GW.”


“The steady supply of quality raw material is crucial to Qatar Solar Energy’s mission to deliver on the promise of low cost and affordable renewable energy for populations across the world. Solar grade silicon from Kazatomprom will be used in the manufacture of QSE’s innovative products that are designed to perform in the most demanding environments present across the planet. By lowering costs and increasing efficiency, QSE is accelerating the democratization of renewable energy worldwide,” said Mr Abbassi. “QSE is achieving this by combining research, development and manufacturing under one roof to form a fully integrated value chain. QSE, when it reaches capacity of 2.5 GW, will make Qatar one of the largest producers of solar power in the world, contrasted with the total combined capacity of production in Europe and the US which currently stands at 3.4 GW.”

In tandem with the financial deal, QSE and Kazatomprom have also pledged to further their ties with regard to knowledge-sharing and training. As part of this, a delegation of Kazatomprom engineers is expected to travel to QSE headquarters in Qatar sometime in September.

A year and a half ago, I reported on a 2018 target of 16% electricity from solar in Qatar. I imagine that helped to stimulate the investment noted above.


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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.



  • Steven Geiger, Innova Partners

    KAP seems to be pursuing the UMG route. Our research from industry insiders indicates UMG still remains a difficult process for producing material of an acceptable, even solar grade, quality. If the UMG material is even 0.5% off in cell-level efficiency, you can throw it away (or maybe sell it at low prices as a blending material). Perhaps KAP has discovered something new. Otherwise, the solar ambitions of both nations may suffer a setback.

  • jburt56

    The Gulf States are presented with a quandary. On one hand they can build up domestic solar energy production, displace domestic demand for carbon which could then could be exported. Doing so, however, builds the supply of PV to the point it could undercut carbon in price.

    • Kevin McKinney

      Well, the FF gravy can’t go on forever. It seems that some, at least, are looking for a ‘second act.’

  • Matt

    So sound like a political marriage. Can they make quality solar grade silicon? It’s just building a plant. A good question might be “What is the likely price going to be over the next ten years?”. But since both are likely owned by Qatar government and/or inside families, it doesn’t really matter. It is just Qatar deciding to set up production of several steps in the total panel process.

  • Stars und Sternchen

  • JamesWimberley

    Odd. What comparative advantage has Kazakhstan in silicon ingots? It has cheap gas to make them, but then so has Qatar. Neither are leaders in the refining technology, which is changing fast.

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    • Kevin McKinney

      An intriguing question. I looked at the KazAtomProm website, here (renewable energy tab):

      http://www.kazatomprom.kz/en/#!/industry/energy/renewable-energy

      KAP is a state-owned enterprise, and seems to be mandated to be point organization for Kazakhstan’s efforts to develop renewable energy. They are refiners, but come from the nuclear re-processing side of things. Perhaps you know better than I do just how relevant that is to silicon ingot production?

      It’s possible, of course, that there is a good dose of politics along with the economics of this deal. KAP is the state, essentially, so it may be that they are willing to do otherwise uneconomic deals in order to attain political ends. Pure speculation, but these things do happen… Interesting in that regard that the PR apparently says nothing about the financial terms.

      • Kevin McKinney

        Further to that, here’s a page on the Qatar Solar site:

        http://www.qatarsolar-energy.com/vision.html

        Clearly, it’s a very ‘top-down’ affair… though I’m not complaining that the Emir has a practically-oriented vision for renewables.

      • Kevin McKinney

        They (Qatar Solar, that is) are also looking to get into EV light trucks, partnered with Smith Electric Vehicles (a company of which I was previously unaware):

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smith_Electric_Vehicles

        • JamesWimberley

          Smith is basically bust. It suspended production in May (link). It had the longest history in evs of anybody – going back to the electric milk delivery floats you find everywhere in Britain. But it is too small to develop and advance its own battery technology, the crucial component for success. On the other hand, they do know how to make the vehicles, unlike Fisker.

          If Qatar is prepared to play fairy godmother to relaunch Smith, it will take a giant pot of money and a tie-up with a leading battery firm. Perhaps Smith could become Tesla’s commercial brand?

          • Kevin McKinney

            Thanks for the update, James.

          • Offgridman

            Not disagreeing that Smith had done a temporary shutdown as you said, but thought I heard last month (end of June) that they finally got the contract signed with the US military for on base vehicles that will also serve as part of mini grid backup. They may not be producing them quite yet, but from the article it seemed the military was definitely getting a sizeable number of vehicles from them.

          • Patrick Linsley

            Smith got a big boost from the Chinese company, Sinopoly (this happened about a week and a half after that article was published). It’s on their home page dunno if anything has happened since.

            http://www.smithelectric.com/

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