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Sat 24 Jul 2010 04:00 AM

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Qatari ambition

Like its GCC neighbours, Qatar is feeling the effects of increasing urbanisation and industrialisation. Rising demand for power and water is leading to huge investments into the utilities sector, and an increasingly diverse energy supply.

Qatari ambition
Desalination capacity in Qatar is set to rise.

Like its GCC neighbours, Qatar is feeling the effects of increasing urbanisation and industrialisation. Rising demand for power and water is leading to huge investments into the utilities sector, and an increasingly diverse energy supply.

Subject to the scorching desert heat, Qatar is racing to keep up with the demands for power and water of its citizens. This is no easy task. In 2009, consumption of electricity increased by 14 percent, while water use went up by eight percent. Qatar has turned to public-private enterprise to deal with this challenge. Independent Power and Water Plants (IWPPs) have been key in coping with the dual demand for electricity and water. The first IWPP, Ras Laffan A, started operations in 2004. Ras Laffan C, now known as Ras Girtas, is destined to be the largest IWPP in Qatar, is due to become operational in April 2011.

Media reports in January suggested that Qatar would also award a contract for a 2,000MW power plant during 2010. The plant is estimated to cost between US$2.5bn and $3bn and would be operational by 2012-2013, if awarded by the end of the year.

Alternative thinking

Qatar is looking to diversify its energy supply, and is exploring nuclear and solar power options.

In November 2008, Qatar announced plans to launch a preliminary study into the viability of developing a nuclear power plant in the country. The study will look for an appropriate site and assess potential to link the plant to the grid. Both Russia and France are looking to capitalise on Qatar's nuclear ambitions.

Then, in January this year, Qatar announced that it was seeking to construct a major new solar power plant. Reports suggest that nearly 25 local and international companies are in discussions for the launch of the plant, which will require an investment of $1bn. In addition, the Qatar Foundation announced a joint venture with German company SolarWorld, to produce polysilicon, the main ingredient in solar panels, at a $500 million plant in northern Qatar.

The Qatar Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa) has commissioned France's Sogreah to carry out a feasibility study for what would be Qatar's first solar-powered desalination plants. The company has been asked to look at establishing several plants. Kahramaa has suggested using parabolic trough solar technology and multi-effect distillation, though Sogreah will make its own recommendation on which technology to use and where to situate the plants.

The wastewater sector

Ashghal, the public works authority, is currently mulling the outsourcing of the running and maintenance of parts of the wastewater sector. The contract for a three-year feasibility study for such a move is expected to be awarded later in the first half of the year.

Qatar's first major sewage treatment plant, built in the 1960s, was Doha South, then a 12,000m3/d facility. It has been expanded over the years to its present capacity of around 106,000 cubic meters per day. It is maintained and operated by Veolia, which was awarded the contract in April 2009. Ashghal is now looking to add another 80,000 cubic meters per day of treatment capacity.

One of the latest facilities is the Doha North sewage treatment plant, commissioned by Ashghal. Due to become operational in 2011, it will have the biggest capacity of any of Qatar's sewage plant at 40,000 million cubic meters per day, and is a major plank in Ashghal's strategy to keep pace with growing demand.

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