Qatar mulls solar plants - officials

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Qatar is considering setting up concentrated solar power plants, according to top officials at Qatar Petroleum (QP).

Every square kilometer of land in Qatar is receiving solar energy equivalent to 1.5m barrels of crude oil in a year. The country also has an average daily sunshine time exceeding 9.5 hours and abundant free land space which are considered to be the right conditions to build a large-scale solar power plant.

According to a technical paper by Ali Hamed al-Mulla and Pitta Govinda Rao of Qatar Petroleum, Qatar's annual rate of solar irradiation is 1,858 kWh per sqm per year with considerable seasonal variations. During the summer, from May to July, the potential is over 6 kWh per sqm per day and from December to February is about 3.5 to 4.4 kWh per sqm per day, Gulf Times reported.

Experts say this shows the large potential for exploiting solar energy in Qatar, even if the land area requirements and maintenance costs for concentrated solar power are still high. Qatar Solar Technologies (QSTec), a joint venture between Qatar Foundation (70 percent), Solar World AG (29 percent) and Qatar Development Bank (1 percent), is building the country's new solar energy industry.

Electricity consumption in Qatar increased by 13 percent in 2012 in comparison to 2011, despite the government campaign to rationalise power consumption. The country wants to reduce per capita electricity consumption by 20 percent over the next five years.

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