Qatari government launches 200 MW solar initiative

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The government of Qatar last week announced plans to explore the untapped solar potential in the country with an initial 200 MW-phase of PV projects.

The Ministry of Energy and Industry has been given the green light to press ahead with this first tranche of solar energy development, which will provide clean electricity to power desalination plants across the country.

"Qatar has solar energy potential that equals 1.5 million barrels of crude oil annually, and that is why the government is set on benefiting from this renewable energy source," said the head of Qatar’s Administrative and Transparency Agency, Abdallah ben Hamad al Atia.

"The country has witnessed a steady increase in population in the past few years, and this has led to an increase in demand on power and water," continued al Atia, stating that Qatar aims to produce 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2024: "We have also set a target of producing 1,800 MW [of clean power] by 2020."

The Qatar National Food Program will also be instrumental in the creation of the country’s first solar plant, with the clean power-backed desalination plants vital for providing drinking and irrigation water for the nation, which is 94% desert.

Indeed, water concerns are what is driving Qatar’s interest in solar power, with ministers stating that they plan to invest $125 million over the next five years in projects designed to secure, improve and increase Qatar’s water supply. Currently, 99% of all water consumed in Qatar comes via desalinization.

Beyond that immediate horizon lies the disputed 2022 Qatar World Cup, which is to receive more than $200 billion in infrastructure investment over the next nine years, with solar power set to play an increasingly important role in the country’s energy generation capabilities.