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Sun 3 Feb 2008 12:52 AM

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Qatar eyes world's biggest solar complex

State considers alternative energy as demand for power rockets across region.

Qatar is considering building one of the world's largest solar power complexes to help meet demand, which could increase four-fold over the next 30 years, the Middle East Economic Digest (MEED) reported.

Gulf Arab states have about 30% of the world's oil reserves and 8% of its gas, but an economic boom spurred by record crude prices is driving demand for power and water so rapidly that many are considering turning to alternative energies including nuclear.

Qatar expects to add 16,260 megawatts of power to the national grid between 2011 to 2036, almost four times current capacity of 4,200 megawatts, the magazine said, citing Salah Hamza, senior business development planner at Qatar General Electricity & Water Corp (Kahramaa).

The solar complex would have capacity of 3,500 megawatts by 2013, Hamza said.

"You can have up to 500 MW in one place," he said. "Then you will need about seven sites because the total capacity needed at that time is 3,500 MW," he said adding that solar capacity could increase to 4,500 megawatts by 2036.

The government of Abu Dhabi is also planning to build a solar power plant as part of its $15 billion proposals to develop green energy.

Hamza said the solar complex was part of a wider plan that could include construction of a nuclear power plant. (Reuters)

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