According to WEO-2013 (the World Energy Outlook report, released in November), 1.3 billion people in the world do not have access to electricity and another 2.6 billion lack clean cooking facilities, and although there has been a renewed focus on energy efficiency, carbon emissions too are on the rise.
“Some long-held tenets of the energy sector are being rewritten. Countries are switching roles: importers are becoming exporters and exporters are among the major sources of growing demand. The new supply options reshape ideas about distribution of resources,” WEO-2013 declares.
Global gas demand was estimated at 3,427 billion cubic metres (BCM) in 2012, up 2% from 2011 levels. The demand has increased by around 800 BCM over the past decade, or 2.8% per year. Gas has a 21% share in the global primary energy mix, behind oil and coal.
Qatar, whose gas reserves are said to be 885 trillion cubic feet (33.6 trillion cubic metres), is the world’s largest producer of LNG, and its liquefaction capacity is roughly one-fourth of global LNG liquefaction capacity as of late 2013. LNG liquefaction capacity has also witnessed massive growth – it has increased by 63 BCM since early 2009 to reach 105.4 BCM today.
Qatar produced 157 BCM of gas in 2012, making it the fourth-largest gas producer during the year. About 80% of Qatar’s gas exports are in the form of LNG, about half of which is shipped to Asia. Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia and Algeria are also significant LNG exporters, and Russia and Yemen also started exporting in 2009, Peru in 2010 and Angola in 2013.
Papua New Guinea is expected to start exporting in 2014 and Australia is set to become the second-largest LNG exporter, behind Qatar, by 2016 – as seven projects are currently committed or under construction, representing over 80 BCM of new capacity. On the domestic front, Qatar expects the demand for power, the key for developmental activities, will increase by 10% annually over the next five years.
To meet the growing demand for power, Kahramaa (Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation) has decided to construct an independent water and power plant (IWPP) with a desalination capacity of 30 million gallons per day (MGD) besides generating 2,400 MW of electricity. The plant is expected to be commissioned in the second half of 2016.
The government is planning to invest around QR80 billion ($22 billion) in its power and water sector in the next eight years. This will include the opening of new electricity substations besides laying new transmission and distribution lines.
Aware that Qatar cannot depend on fossil fuels alone to meet its growing demand for power in the years to come, the government has also finalised plans to add 1,800 MW of solar energy to its installed capacity to meet its growing demand for electricity by 2020 as the present demand for generation, which is around 6,000 MW, is expected to reach 10,000 MW by 2020.
The peak demand for power crossed 6,000 MW in September this year and hence plans are under way to increase the installed capacity by reorienting Qatar’s power generation and looking at alternative energy sources such as renewable energy to add to the installed capacity.
“We cannot substitute fossil fuel to generate electricity for the next eight years but [we can] complement it by adding solar energy to the grid. We have a commitment to produce 2% of solar energy, that is 200 MW of the total demand, by 2020,” says Saleh Hamad Al-Marri, Head of Renewable Energy Technologies at Kahramaa.
Although the corporation faces two major constraints in rising land prices and harsh environment, Kahramaa is using the rooftops of its substations to generate solar energy. With regard to the harsh environment due to sand and dust, Qatar is no different from other countries in the region, but several entities like the Qatar Science and Technology Park have been doing research to overcome the problem. While generation and transmission are taken up on a large scale, Kahramaa has also launched Tarsheed, a national campaign for the conservation and efficient use of water and electricity by the two million residents of the country.
With this campaign, Kahramaa’s target is to reduce water consumption per capita by 35% and electricity consumption by 20% in the next five years. Since Qatar is expected to be in power surplus even after meeting its demand beyond 2022, it will be able to export the additional power to neighbouring countries in the GCC region. To minimise transmission losses, new substations are being planned at Gharrafa, University South, Bin Mahmoud and other places.
According to Business Monitor International, the transmission and distribution losses in Qatar are said to be around 8% and this needs to be improved if the country is to become a major exporter.