A solar power plant is to be built for the first time in Qatar, as part of the state’s efforts to fight carbon emission and climate change.

A milestone was reached in Qatar in January 2020, with the signing of the QAR1.7 bn, 800MW Al Kharsaah Large Scale Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Power Plant.

Agreements have been signed between Qatar Petroleum (QP), Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa), Qatar Electricity and Water Company (QEWC), Siraj Energy, Marubeni Corporation and Total, to establish the project company and for power purchase from the plant.  

QEWC is one of the largest utility companies in the MENA region, and is the main supplier of electricity and desalinated water in Qatar. QP and QEWC have established a joint venture company, Siraj Energy, for the generation of electricity from solar power.
QP holds 40% and QEWC 60% in Siraj Energy.

Pursuant to the agreements, Kahramaa, in its capacity as the Transmission and Distribution System Owner and Operator (TDSOO) in Qatar will buy electricity from Siraj, which is owned by Siraj Energy (60%), and Marubeni Corporation of Japan and Total Solar International of France (40%).

The 10 sq km project is in Al Kharsaah, about 80 km west of Doha. It follows a Build, Own, Operate, and Transfer (BOOT) model and has a term of 25 years – thereafter ownership will be transferred to Kahramaa. Under the first phase, 350MW will be connected to the grid by Q1 2021, while the commercial commissioning of the total capacity will start in Q1 2022; this is in line with objectives set out in Qatar National Development Strategy 2018–2022.

Speaking after the agreements were signed, HE Saad Sherida Al Kaabi, the Minister of State for Energy Affairs and QP President and CEO, stated that the project is part of the energy sector’s preparation to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup QatarTM. 

The plant will generate about eight times the quantum of solar energy that Qatar had pledged to build, helping the 2022 FIFA World Cup become a carbon-neutral event.

The project is also part of our efforts to conserve energy and protect the environment in a manner that strikes a balance between the needs of the current generation and that of the future generations as stipulated by Qatar National Vision 2030.

– HE Saad Sherida Al Kaabi

The project will employ the latest solutions and innovations in solar energy technology, including the use of dual panels, state-of-the-art automated systems to track the sun, and robots to clean the solar panels to ensure the continuity of production efficiency and reduce plant operating costs.

The power plant is expected to produce approximately 10% of the country’s peak electricity demand and reduce 26 mn tonnes of carbon dioxide. This aligns with the objectives of the National Programme for Conservation and Energy Efficiency (Tarsheed) by Kahramaa. Tarsheed aims to reduce 1 mn tonnes of carbon emissions annually until 2022.

Kahramaa had invited Requests for Bids (RFB) to build Qatar’s first large-scale solar PV power plant at the start of 2019 – 16 international solar power developers were prequalified and five competitive bids were received. This was a large number of bids taking into account the nature of the project, reflecting the strength and attractiveness of Qatar’s electricity market and the global interest to invest in the country.

Author: Sarah Palmer

This article is from Marhaba Information Guide’s Issue No 77 Spring/Summer 2020.

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