QSTech plan shows Qatar taking a bigger step to solar

In Qatar, a company with ties to the government is looking to invest in solar energy in a big way as part of a larger trend toward renewables and away from oil in a region that, for decades, has relied on exporting barrels of crude.

News reports this month said the company, Qatar Solar Technologies (QSTech) is working with the German companies SolarWorld and Centrotherm Photovoltaics AG to roll out more impressive arrays of solar panels across the country.

QSTech has set a benchmark of 6.5 GW worth of solar facilities, without a detailed timeline. The company is a member of the Qatar Foundation, a nonprofit group founded in 1995 by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. The Qatar Foundation gets government funds and is headquartered in Education City in Doha.

The goal of 6.5 GW is significant – for comparison, news from Saudi Arabia shows the kingdom is committed to reaching a solar capacity of 9.5 GW by 2030.

Qatar leaders working on solar expansion cite Paris summits and other international moves toward environmental awareness as aspects boosting the development of new solar facilities today. QSTech Chairman and CEO Khalid K Al Hajri is quoted in World Finance magazine as claiming that nearly 60 percent of the world's energy needs will be driven by renewables by 2040. Many GCC leaders plan to be out front of this average, since some western nations and others around the world lag on promoting new renewable energy sources.

QSTech leaders also showed how the price of solar is coming down, and feasibility is approaching a critical mass where there's a smaller gap between costs for solar and gas.

“It is a smart move, a natural hedge to develop alternative fuel and income sources for an economy so reliant on oil,"  John Tough, vice president of business development operations at Choose Energy, a San Francisco-based company offering online platforms for making energy choices, told the Gulf News Journal. “ Furthermore, it will help create new jobs outside of the oil industry.”

Tough pointed out that moving away from oil will also help with the market volatility that has besieged traditional energy choices in the region as slacking demand has caused the price of oil to fall to unprecedented lows.

“These new jobs should be less volatile … effectively providing more consistent income for local workers.” Tough said.

As for guiding the Qatar economy off of oil, Tough said that while that end goal may be far away, incremental steps may be the way to get there.

“Every small investment helps.” Tough said.

Time will show which of the GCC countries is able to first bring solar energy to that critical mass point and demonstrate how renewables will power a future world. One thing’s for sure – leaders across the region are committed to these efforts, and are optimistic about a solar tomorrow.


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Qatar Foundation

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