Qatari utilities announce solar joint venture

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Oil- and gas-rich Gulf state Qatar has recently seen two of its most prominent energy utilities create a joint venture (JV) concerned with the development of solar power in the country.

Qatar Petroleum (QP) and Qatar Electricity and Water Company (QEWC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in the presence of Qatar Prime Minister HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani towards the end of 2015.

Full details of the capital base were not disclosed, but it is known that QP will have a 40% stake in the JV, with QEWC controlling 60% of the circa $500 million initiative.

Sheikh Abdullah remarked at the signing of the MOU: "Qatar is continuing its efforts to provide sustainable sources of energy and to help conserve the environment as well as our natural resources, as we implement the environmental pillars of Qatar National Vision 2030, and protect the rights of future generations."

The president and chief executive of QP, Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, added that QP is aware of its "immense responsibility" to help preserve the environment and support sustainable development efforts that ensure the long-term optimal utilization of Qatar’s natural resources.

Located on the Arabian Peninsula, Qatar is blessed with extremely high levels of solar irradiation and – per capita – is the richest country in the world, which makes the pursuit of solar power a sensible one from an environmental and economic perspective.

However, progress has been slow so far, mirroring the general lack of urgency in the wider Middle East region when it comes to solar development. Various initiatives have been launched over the past couple of years, including a 200 MW government-backed scheme in 2013 and, more recently, a the inauguration by Qatar Solar Energy (QSE) of a 300 MW module production facility in the country’s capital, Doha.