Qatar’s solar energy future is steadily developing. With average daily sunshine of around 9.5 hours, low-cloud cover conditions and plentiful space, there is great scope for small, medium as well as large-scale solar power projects in the country. Qatar’s global horizontal irradiance is 2,140 kWh per m2 per year which makes it well-suited for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.
The country is geographically well-positioned to tap its tremendous solar energy potential and has set an ambitious target of 2 percent renewable energy contribution in the national energy mix by 2022. Solar energy has multiple advantages for Qatar in the form of energy security, improved air quality, reduced GHG emissions, employment opportunities, apart from augmenting water and food securityIn addition to solar PV, Qatar has very good potential for concentrated solar power (CSP) as its direct normal irradiance (DNI) value is around 2,008 kWh per m2 per year which is above the minimum threshold of 1,800 kWh per m2 per year.
Qatar’s concentrated solar power potential can be effectively utilized in seawater desalination processes as well as large-scale power generation.CSP offers an attractive option to power industrial-scale desalination plants that require both high temperature fluids and electricity. CSP can provide stable energy supply for continuous operation of desalination plants, based on thermal or membrane processes, in Qatar. Leading CSP technology companies are taking a keen interest in Qatar solar market and rapid developments are expected in the coming years.
Solar Energy Applications Viable in Pakistan
Seeing Solar Energy Potential in Qatar, it is envisaged that most of the solar energy applications that are being used around the world are very practical in the country.
Studies conducted by the World Bank and some national agencies in Qatar suggest that PV power systems become competitive with conventional energy sources for small power applications such as for telecommunication in remote areas. If installed, about 20 MW PV installations will generate an average 32.195 million kWh of energy annually on a 35% annual plant factor. Since the cost of implementing the option is much higher than the benefits available, the implementation of PV option has not met any considerable success over the years. The manufacturing and assembling of plants and equipment would improve the employment level in the country and reduce solar costs.
OFF-GRID APPLICATIONS OF SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC (PV)
Solar Photovoltaic Technologies can be deployed for various off-grid applications as given below:
Solar street lighting
Street lighting shares around 300 MW of total electricity consumption of the country. It is anticipated that this load would reach to around 500MW in coming days due to new installations in planning and design stages. All such load can be shifted to solar energy. Solar Street Lighting Systems powered through Solar PV modules can meet with this load. The development authorities in the country are exploring the opportunities of this shift. Their planning departments are currently working out prospects for making all new installations of street lighting through solar energy applications.
(Bill Board Lighting, Search Lighting, garden lighting etc.)
Commercial lighting load is increasing as the life style of the people is changing. The provincial and city governments are planning to shift all this much load to solar energy. This renders a potential of around 5 MW for solar PV modules in coming days.
Solar Water Pumping
The irrigation system in most of the Arid Agricultural Areas is either dependent upon rain or water pumps. This load accounts for more than 1,000 MW Currently, these pumps are either operated through grid or through diesel generators. The federal and provincial governments are planning to shift this load to solar energy. Efficient solar energy water pumps are available in the market. The companies that are supplying pumps can be contacted for supply of PV modules.
ON-GRID APPLICATIONS OF SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC (PV)
As like off-grid applications, Solar Photovoltaic Technologies have definite prospects for various on-grid applications. A few of them are discussed below:
Commercial Power Projects
A huge acreage of land is lying barren in different parts of the country. The areas that are located in most potential areas and where grid is also available, photovoltaic technologies can be deployed for on-grid power generation project. Grid tied power projects of various capacities can be installed in various parts of the country. A few investors are intending to initiate grid tied PV projects of 2 – 5 MW capacity. If one or two successful projects of such capacities are executed, a lot many investors will jump into such projects.
Solar Thermal – Electric
Solar thermal technologies collect the sun’s radiant energy to create a high-temperature at the source that can be converted into electricity via a number of thermodynamic conversion cycles. Though solar thermal generation system is a proven technology in the USA, Germany and France where such systems have been providing electricity to grid systems on a competitive basis with conventional fossil fuel-fired thermal power plants, no solar power plants exist in Pakistan at present. These technologies are currently in the development and demonstration phase in the country.
Solar Building Technologies
Active heating systems provide hot water for space heating with mechanical assistance while passive heating and cooling systems use little or no mechanical assistance and rely rather on the design of the building to achieve specific thermal requirement goals. The application of solar building technologies is assessed to be high in Pakistan. However, the country does not have building regulations, which support the applications of solar building technologies. The Building Energy Code developed by ENERCON includes a chapter on solar technologies but this document is only for voluntary compliance and has not so far been adopted formally by any municipality.
Solar Water Heaters
According to a Household Energy Survey Study (HESS) Project conducted by the Planning Commission in 1991, water heating in the domestic sector is estimated to have consumed about 145,600 TOE of natural gas. Companies in Pakistan manufacture these devices commercially. This amount of energy and corresponding emissions will be saved for every solar water heater that is installed. The initial investment cost of manufacturing solar water heaters will be higher than that of the natural gas and electric water heaters already available in the market. Consumers experience 10-20% higher prices when they choose a solar water heater instead of a conventional water heater. However, by replacing conventional water heaters with solar water heating systems, significant amount of natural gas will be saved annually. The cumulative potential of GHG emission reduction of the solar water heater option has been projected as 4.10 million tons of CO2 by 2020. The saving in emissions will arise from reduced natural gas consumption for water heating in the domestic sector.