The New Economy interviews Dr Khalid Klefeekh Al Hajri, Chairman and CEO of Qatar Solar Technologies, on Qatar’s commitment to solar energy
Qatar has committed to generating 1.8 gigawatts of solar power by 2014, and meet 20 percent of its energy needs with solar in the future. Qatar Solar Technologies – a joint venture between Qatar Foundation (70 percent), SolarWorld AG (29 percent) and the Qatar Development Bank (1 percent) – will be central to achieving this. Chairman and CEO Dr Khalid Klefeekh Al Hajri discusses the development of QSTech’s polysilicon plant, and explains how important the company is to the Qatar National Vision.
The New Economy: How does Qatar solar technologies plan to meet this twenty percent challenge?
Dr Khalid Klefeekh Al Hajri: First of all let’s go back to why we created Qatar solar technologies. Qatar Solar technologies was created based on the Qatar national vision. Which involves by 2030 the diversification of solar technology. So it’s already been determined that Qatar Solar will be the main main company that will lead the development of the industry. So what do we fit? We fit in the centre.
The New Economy: And how important is solar energy to the Qatar national vision?
Dr Khalid Klefeekh Al Hajri: Well in fact solar energy is very important to all nations throughout the world. And Qatar is not different than any country. One of the things is just move the country from hydrocarbon base to a knowledge base. And by getting the solar industry as a source of energy will bring with it new technology, new research and development, a new opportunity for recruitment, a new opportunity for development and also will have positive impact on the climate change everybody’s complaining about. However, I have to highlight here: Qatar is producing the most hydrocarbon friendly to the environment. liquified natural gas, gas to liquid, all this kind of project, which is compared to other things less harm to the environment. In addition to that, they are going through this solar industry to make sure that any problem with the climate change is supported to overcome it, and also to make the life for the future generation better than the life you and I we are looking through.
The New Economy: Tell us about your polysilicone plant, how are things progressing?
Dr Khalid Klefeekh Al Hajri: First of all let me tell you about the size we have. We have one point two million square meters. That size when fully operational will be generating around six point five gigawatts. So in order to approach the best utilisation of the land, we planned our project on phases. So we say we’ll make the phase one, which is about eight thousand ton, that will give you around one point four gigawatt. The plant currently construction is going on, we started our construction, we completed more than two million man hours safely. The quality is aligned with what has been set for it. By the end of 2013 we will have started the plant. So let’s hope everything goes as planned, and I am so confident we will do it as we structured it.
The New Economy: Now to develop the plant you worked with some key German solar companies. Tell us about these partnerships.
Dr Khalid Klefeekh Al Hajri: Yeah, in reality we did it with too many of the stakeholders, some of them really have that direct impact on the organisation like SolarWorld, which is the leading integrated German company. They represent 20 percent of the equity of Qatar Solar Technology. Also the technology we’re using Seamans, the technology provider, is centre with them which is very leading technology profile. And the technology we are using is 85 percent of the technology worldwide are using that technology. However I have forgotten to mention that we will be reducing the commission of the plant by the end of 2013.
The New Economy: There are many interesting ongoing solar projects in Qatar. Tell us about your role in these and the development of them
Dr Khalid Klefeekh Al Hajri: I don’t think there are too many companies involved in the solar industry. We are, but they’re our customers. So we will be providing, we are the only company producing the solar materials for the panels in the future. and then the rest of them are utilising what we are producing. So, we have for example, Qatar Foundation, all their facilities – be that the Convention Centre, or Msheireb or other subsidiaries that belong to them – are using solar technology, therefore we would provide them with that.
In addition we have signed a lot of memorandum of understanding, with Qatar electricity and water companies, city and energy, and national food security. And maybe you heard that Qatar has already announced that 20 percent of the future will be utilising from the solar resource of technology. In addition we will have 1.8GW starting in 2014 and I think annually we will go for 1.5GW after that.
The New Economy: So what’s next for Qatar solar technologies as you look to the next 3, 4, 5 years?
Dr Khalid Klefeekh Al Hajri: I think it’s the future better than what we are today, better than the past because we are learning, we are going through the leaning curve, and we are still young and by that time we will be better than what we do with them today. And we will be meeting the demand the state is looking for. And we will make sure that their vision is a reality.
The New Economy:Dr. Al Hajri, Thank you
Dr Khalid Klefeekh Al Hajri: Thank you so much, Nick