Qatar to install utility-scale reservoir rooftop solar panels

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The head of Qatar’s state-run electricity and water company has announced ambitious plans to install solar panels atop the roofs of many of the country’s 85 reservoirs.

The plan was revealed earlier this week at the Solar Qatar Summit – a gathering of local and international solar experts to discuss the PV potential of the tiny Middle East nation.

Saleh Hamad Al-Marri, head of state-run Kahramaa’s renewable energy technologies sector, told attendees at the summit about the utility’s plans to fit the roofs that cover Qatar’s vital drinking water supplies with solar panels, utilizing existing transmission lines already attached in order to reduce construction costs.

Although currently in the planning stage, Al-Marri confirmed to local media that bids for tenders could be issued early in 2014.

Qatar’s National Food Security Programme (QNFSP) has been a driving force behind the nation’s thirst for renewable energy, creating an action plan designed to better utilize Qatar’s abundant solar radiation.

A first- and second-phase solar program was launched in October, with these latest plans a more creative solution to Qatar’s lack of viable land space (the country measures just 11,571km² – roughly five times the size of London).

"We aim to optimize the utilization of redundant flat surfaces in the infrastructure of Qatar, such as roofs of grid stations and water reservoirs, to generate a capacity of up to 200 MW by 2020 from solar sources," announced Kahramaa’s president Essa bin Hilal al-Kuwari at the summit.

Needs must in a country with very little available land for large-scale solar plants. Qatar will instead adopt a scattered model, installing several small- to medium-sized PV installations.

Meanwhile, Qatar Solar Tech – 70% owned by the Qatar Foundation – has announced that it is scaling up its local manufacturing capabilities, and will build a 297 acre solar farm in the country’s Ras Laffan Industrial City, which is one of the world’s fastest-growing conurbations.