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Mon 1 Mar 2010 02:25 PM

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Qatar signs deal with German solar-panel maker

German solar-panel maker will own 29% of JV; Qatar Foundation will control 70% stake.

Qatar signs deal with German solar-panel maker
BRIGHT FUTURE: Solarworld AG will own 29 percent of Qatar Solar Technologies while the Qatar Foundation will control a 70 percent stake. (GETTY IMAGES)

Solarworld AG will produce silicon, the main ingredient in solar-energy panels, in the Emirate of Qatar in a push to expand in the growing Middle Eastern market, one of the world’s sunniest.

The German solar-panel maker will own 29 percent of Qatar Solar Technologies while the Qatar Foundation will control a 70 percent stake, the Bonn-based company said today in a statement on the DGAP news wire. Total investment will be $500m.

Qatar and other regions of the Middle East, along with the Sahara and the US southwest, receive more solar radiation than most regions of the world, according to the World Resources Institute. Solarworld and competitors including First Solar of the US expect a decline in panel prices to help them boost sales in regions where electricity from the sun will be able to compete on price with power from coal and natural gas plants.

“A change of thinking is taking place on the Arabian Peninsula from which a larger and larger market for solar power systems is developing,” the company said in the statement.

The silicon factory is planned to have an annual capacity of 3,600 tonnes. Purification of silicon, an energy-intensive process, will be powered using natural gas, which is abundant in Qatar, Solarworld said.

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