A Qatar-based renewable energy company yesterday unveiled a first-of-its-kind solar panel manufacturing and research facility which can produce panels capable of generating as much as 300 megawatts of energy annually.
Qatar Solar Energy (QSE), a private initiative with support from the government, has set up in Doha’s New Industrial Area, the facility, described as the largest in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region.
The opening ceremony was attended by environmental leaders Robert F Kennedy Jr and Dr Rajendra K Pachauri, chairperson of the Nobel Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, QSE and government officials, foreign dignitaries and industry representatives.
“We have plans to expand our capacity to 2.5 gigawatts,” QSE board member Reyad Fezzami told the media during a tour of the facility but did not give any time frame. QSE imports polysilicon, the raw material to make solar panels, from Kazakhstan, Germany and China.
“Our focus and the major thrust of our work is on solar technology and energy. Solar energy is now global,” he said. “It is a cost-competitive point for consumers and it is growing at a very fast phase in every country in the world.”
Fezzami believes that through a continuing investment in technology, manufacturing and global deployment, Qatar is on the path to becoming one of the biggest producers of solar energy in the world.
Fezzami was joined by his colleague, Dr Kamal Ounadjela, who explained the process of manufacturing solar panels at the facility.
In a statement, QSE CEO Salim Abbassi described the event as a significant milestone for the country, proving the region could be on the leading edge of an industry that will secure sustainable and clean energy for future generations.
QSE yesterday signed agreements with Jermyn Capital to supply panels capable of producing 150MW of solar power to the Japanese market and with Power Capital to supply panels to generate 150MW to the Thailand market.
Meeting global standards, Fezzami stressed that QSE products could be used anywhere in the world, including the US, Europe and Japan.
“We can sell anywhere in the world but the products we produce are more suitable in the region because there is high solar radiation levels here,” he noted.
While Germany is one of the biggest markets in the world in solar technology, the QSE official said the European nation had less solar radiation compared with countries in the region.
Fezzami noted that QSE focused on large end-users (as its market) such as five, 10, 15 to 30MW projects in the world. It does not cater to domestic projects such as putting roof panels on top of individual houses.
He believed that the market in the region had not yet developed to a stage where certified installers were available.
“We are working closely with interested parties to find ways to introduce the concept and installation here so that when the demand is there, we can deliver those solutions,” said Fezzami. “We know there is demand, the details and how it evolves is yet to be determined.”
QSE’s model combines research, technology development, manufacturing, and project development and deployment under one roof, forming a fully integrated value chain from raw materials to the end-user.
QSE is currently the only facility for ingot, wafer, cell and module production in the Mena region, the official added.