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Qatar signs deal to build world’s biggest single-phase solar plant

Qatar signs deal to build world’s 
biggest single-phase solar plant

Satyendra Pathak
Doha
Qatar’s Siraj Energy has signed an agreement with France’s Total and Japan’s Marubeni to build world’s biggest single-phase solar power plant in Qatar. Prime Minister and Minister of Interior HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al Thani witnessed the ceremony on Sunday.
To be developed with a cost of QR1.7 billion, the large-scale solar PV power plant will be constructed at Al-Kharsaah area, west of Doha, on a 10 square kilometre land plot.
The solar power project will have the capacity to produce about 800 megawatts (MW) of electricity once it is fully operational. It will meet about 10 percent of Qatar’s current peak electricity demand.
The PM also witnessed signing of deals to establish the project company as well as for power purchase from the plant.
According to the agreement, Qatar’s Siraj Energy, a joint venture owned by Qatar Petroleum and Qatar Electricity and Water Company (QEWC), will hold a 60 percent stake in the solar plant. The remaining 40 percent will be owned by both Marubeni and Total.
Pursuant to another agreement signed on the occasion, Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation (Kahramaa) in its capacity as the Transmission and Distribution System Owner and Operator (TDSOO) in Qatar will buy electricity from the solar power plant.
The project follows a Build, Own, Operate, and Transfer (BOOT) model and has a term of 25 years, after which the ownership will be transferred to Kahramaa.
Addressing a press conference, Minister of State for Energy Affairs and President and CEO of Qatar Petroleum HE Saad Sherida al Kaabi said the project will be developed in two phases.
“Today is the commencement of the project itself and we expect by the first quarter of 2021 to have half of the plant’s capacity up and running. The project will reach full capacity by the first quarter of 2022,” he said.
Kaabi said, “This plant is the first of its kind in Qatar with a total capacity of 800 MW which equals about 10 percent of Qatar’s current peak electricity demand. 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.”
“This project is in line with Qatar’s policy to diversify the production of energy and to increase reliance on renewable energy, which is a basic cornerstone for a sustainable future.”
“This project also comes as part of the energy sector’s contributions towards Qatar’s commitment to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. It will generate about eight times the size of the solar energy Qatar had pledged in the FIFA World Cup bid to ensure organisation of a carbon neutral event.”
Kaabi said that Qatar, the world’s largest supplier of liquefied natural gas (LNG), plans more solar projects as the country aims to reduce carbon emissions and minimise its impact on the environment.
Talking to Qatar Tribune on the sidelines of the event, Qatar Electricity and Water Company General Manager and Managing Director and Siraj Energy Board Member Fahad bin Hamad al Mohannadi said, “Al-Kharsaah Solar PV Power Plant is the biggest single-phase solar power plant in the world. The project will include application of the latest solutions and innovations in solar energy technology, including the use of dual panels, utilising state-of-the-art automated systems to track the sun and the use of robots in the continuous cleaning of solar panels to ensure the continuity of production efficiency and reduce plant operating costs.”
Kahramaa had announced Requests for Bids (RFB) to build Qatar’s first large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant in the first half of 2019.
As many as 16 international Solar Power Developers were prequalified by Kahramaa. Five competitive bids were received, which is a high number of bids considering the nature of this project, and which reflects the strength and attractiveness of Qatar’s electricity market and the global interest to invest in the country.
For his part, Kahramaa President Essa bin Hilal al Kuwari said, “Monitoring the recent developments in solar panel manufacturing including their improving efficiency and decreasing costs, and considering the natural gas quantities that can potentially be saved and the associated emissions reductions, Kahramaa has decided to go forward with a utility-scale solar power plant.”
Marubeni Corporation President and CEO Masumi Kakinoki said, “As part of the promotion of sustainable development, and the fight against climate change, Marubeni aims to help realise a decarbonised society. As such, we are targeting approximately 20 percent increase in the ratio of power generated by renewable energy sources in our net power supply by 2023. We will work hard to make this project successful, thus contributing to the further development of Qatar.”
Total Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanne said, “We support Qatar’s drive to develop renewable energy in line with Qatar National Vision 2030 and we will bring the best of our expertise and technical know-how to ensure the success of the project.”
During the project’s lifetime, the plant will contribute to reducing 26 million tonnes of CO2, which aligns with the objectives of the national programme for conservation and energy efficiency “Tarsheed” to reduce 1 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually until 2022.