Sheikha Moza opens solar test facility

December 03, 2012 - 2:11:50 am

H H Sheikha Moza bint Nasser inaugurating the first solar test facility at the Qatar Science and Technology Park in Doha yesterday.  Aisha Al Musallam/HHOPL

By Fazeena Saleem 

DOHA: H H Sheikha Moza bint Nasser yesterday inaugurated a premier solar test facility at the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), to coincide with the COP18/CMP8 climate talks now being held in Doha. 

The Solar Test Facility covers over 35,000 sq m (7 acres) and will produce nearly 400 kilowatts of power. It is a collaboration between QSTP, GreenGulf and Chevron. 

The project will evaluate how more than 30 different solar technologies perform in Qatar’s climate conditions, including the first ever Concentrating Photovoltaic (CPV) system installed in Qatar. It will examine and address challenges to the performance of solar panels over high humidity, high heat and excessive dust. The assessment is expected to end by 2015. 

“Although our region is blessed with high exposure to the Sun making it an obvious renewable source of energy, many specific challenges must be examined and addressed before we can take full advantage of this potential. We are confident that this unique testing facility will provide us with data that will be able to support further development in the field,” said Dr Tidu Maini, Executive Chairman of QSTP.

The facility was inaugurated in the presence of the Minister of Energy and Industry H E Dr Mohammed bin Saleh Al Sada, the Chairman of the Administrative Control and Transparency Authority and President of COP18/CMP8 H E Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah, Executive Secretary of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres, Chairman of the Organising Sub-Committee for COP18/CMP8, Fahad bin Mohammed Al Attiya, the President of Research and Development at Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, Faisal Mohammed Al Suwaidi, and US Ambassador to Qatar, Susan L Ziadeh. 

The joint project will learn about the performance of solar cells in the Qatari environment with high temperatures, local radiation patterns, and study the impact of dust and moisture on performance. It will carry out an independent evaluation of solar system vendors, do research and development to improve the performance of solar systems to build local human and technical capacity.   

“The region recognises the need to diversify its energy production methods and identified solar as a viable complement to its oil and gas economy,” said Omran Hamad Al Kuwari, CEO of GreenGulf.

The $20m Solar Test Facility is a sister project to three other similar Chevron facilities in the US. Chevron will link research and studies from those three test sites in the US to the Solar Test Facility here in Doha, making this project the most comprehensive.   

“We will evaluate the performance of current and emerging solar technologies under the intense conditions found here in Qatar. The results of the tests being done here in Qatar should help determine the most appropriate solar technologies for the region,” said Jim Davis, President, Chevron Energy Solutions. 

“This in turn should help support the deployment of solar energy on major projects being developed in Qatar, such as the 2022 World Cup and the Qatar National Food Security Programme,” Davis said. 

The Solar Test Facility will also be able to assume an educational and capacity building role, as students at the universities of Qatar Foundation and Qatar University will have the opportunity to study and learn about solar technologies through ongoing training and internship programmes.

The Peninsula