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Posted On: 22 September 2020 03:55 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:22 pm

Al Kharsaah - Qatar’s first large-scale solar power plant to be ready in 2021

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Al Kharsaah will be Qatar’s first large-scale solar power plant and will be operational in 2021. It will start with a capacity of 350MW, and by April 2022, its operations will reach full capacity of 800MW. Al Kharsaah will be responsible for providing sustainable, clean and affordable energy to different industries, organisations and individuals.

Located in the Al Kharsaah area of Qatar, this solar power plant that’s being built on 1,000 hectares of land at approximately US $500 million is equipped with 2 million bifacial solar modules/panels that have trackers to allow substantial power gains and will take advantage of the remarkable amount of sunlight you get in Qatar (average daily sunshine is around 9.5 hours). It will use double-sided photo-voltaic (PV) panels that have the capacity to absorb sunlight reflected by the ground onto their rear side. These panels are said to be more suitable for places with high reflection efficiency such as deserts, snowfields and water surfaces, as mentioned by Mizuho Bank and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation in the Kyodo News.

Why are bifacial solar modules being used?

Al Kharsaah - Qatar’s first large-scale solar power plant to be ready in 2021
Image credit: Saur Energy

Bifacial solar modules are a smart, efficient way to harness even more of the sun’s energy; typically 11-20% more energy is captured as compared to energy from traditional PV panels. Bifacial solar modules provide many advantages that traditional solar panels don't (Solar Power World):

  1. In bifacial modules, power is produced from both sides of the panels because both the front and backside of the solar cells are exposed, and this increases the total generation of energy.
  2. Bifacial modules are available in different designs. There are framed and frameless; there are dual-glass and clear backsheets.
  3. They offer more durability because both of the sides are UV resistant, and if the bifacial modules are frameless, potential-induced degradation (PID) concerns become less
  4. Balance of System (BOS) costs are also reduced when more power can be generated from bifacial modules in a smaller array footprint.

How will this solar plant help Qatar become more sustainable?

Al Kharsaah - Qatar’s first large-scale solar power plant to be ready in 2021
Image credit: ME Tenders

Though Qatar has substantial reserves of natural gas, the country's policy is to diversify and move its economy towards other things, apart from oil and gas. That is why solar power is huge on Qatar's agenda to not only diversify its economical portfolio but also to reduce its carbon footprint and become a more sustainable country.

According to the Qatar Investment Authority chief executive officer Mansoor bin Ebrahim al-Mahmoud (Gulf Times):

"Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund plans to shift into greener assets and that 44% of the fund’s infrastructure projects are zero-emission investments. Qatar is fully committed to fighting climate change. In line with this, the country has resolved to produce energy that is safer, more affordable and cleaner. Sustainable development is central to Qatar’s development planning as envisaged in the country’s national vision, strategies and policies."

Since solar power is a non-polluting, sustainable, renewable and a free source of energy that is also inexhaustible, unlike fossil fuels that are exhaustible, and does not emit any greenhouse gases when producing electricity, it makes sense to invest in it.

The Al Kharsaah Solar Plant project is part of Qatar’s plans to diversify its energy sources and to increase the proportion of renewable energy in its total power generation to 20% by 2030, according to the Anadolu Agency.

It will also reduce CO2 emissions in Qatar by about 26 million tons and will represent approximately 10% of the electricity demand in the country.

Who is developing the solar plant in Qatar?

Al Kharsaah - Qatar’s first large-scale solar power plant to be ready in 2021
Image credit: QEWC

Based on a report by PV Magazine, the Al Kharsaah Solar Power Plant will be 60% owned, developed and operated by Siraj Energy - a Qatar Petroleum-QEWC (Qatar Electricity and Water Company) joint venture, and 40% jointly owned by the Consortium of the Total Solar International and the French-Japanese Consortium Marubeni. As a result of this project, Kahramaa will benefit from a 25-year power supply deal.

Japan is providing financial assistance for the project through the Mizuho Bank and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation with a syndicated loan of $330 million, according to the Kyodo News report on 13 August 2020.

Solar Energy in Qatar

Al Kharsaah - Qatar’s first large-scale solar power plant to be ready in 2021
Image credit: NS Energy

Qatar’s solar energy outlook is firmly emerging and advancing. According to EcoMENA, Qatar is one of the most recognised sustainability environmental organisation's in the Middle East and is geographically well-positioned to boost its remarkable solar energy capabilities. Its solar power potential can be successfully developed in seawater desalination processes as well as large-scale power generation projects that are all readily available in the country. Solar energy has multiple advantages in the form of energy security, improved air quality, reduced emissions, and employment opportunities, in addition to augmenting water and food security.

Solar energy is a convenient way to lower down electrical costs, minimise the environmental impact as it reduces the use of coal and other forms of fossil fuel in generating electricity and provides countless other benefits, such as supporting small and big businesses and contributing to energy independence of the country.

And, this is what makes this renewable source of energy one of the most recommended sources of electricity among countries around the world including Qatar.

Also read: Solar energy as an alternative source of electricity in Qatar

Cover image credit: Future Net Zero