Polysilicon plant to fuel Qatar?s solar energy drive

Qatar could eventually generate over 6.5 gigawatt (GW) or 6,500 megawatt of electricity from the sun if all the raw material produced at the $1bn high-quality solar grade polysilicon plant, being set up by Qatar Solar Technologies, is converted into solar panels.

“If the initial production of 8,000 metric tonnes per annum (MTPA) can give 1.2GW when used to make solar modules, the plant’s maximum capacity of 45,000 MTPA will generate over 6.5GW,” Qatar Solar Technologies (QSTec) chairman and CEO Dr Khalid K al-Hajri told Gulf Times.

The solar power plant, coming up on a 1.2mn sqm plot in Ras Laffan Industrial City, is scheduled for first phase completion in the fourth quarter of 2013 and production commencement in the first quarter of 2014 of polysilicon, the fundamental material used in the world’s most efficient solar panels.

“Subsequently, QSTec will move on to full integration, leading to the production of polysilicon ingots, wafers, cells and panels, in the near future,” he explained.

The solar power plant, the first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa region, is a strategic project aligned to Qatar National Vision 2030, laid out by HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.

“This new industry will help Qatar’s transformation from a hydrocarbon economy to a knowledge-based one and in addition to bringing new technology, research and development opportunities, it will provide exciting new career paths for Qataris,” al-Hajri stated.
It will also help better utilisation of electricity and energy resources, bring forth a positive change in the climate and make life better for the future generations.

QSTec was launched in March 2010 as a joint venture between Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (70%), leading integrated global solar company SolarWorld (29%) and the Qatar Development Bank (1%).

The technology contract has been awarded to Centrotherm SiTec of Germany, the project management contract to CH2M Hill and the equipment, procurement and construction contract to Punj Lloyd of India.

“QSTec aims to become one of the world’s leading integrated solar companies, with its products used locally in Qatar and exported globally, ensuring a sustainable industry for Qatar beyond the country’s natural oil and gas capabilities,” the official asserted.

Metallurgical-grade silicon, the raw feedstock to make polysilicon, is to be imported from countries, including China, Brazil, Australia and Norway.

“We will make sure that our product is of the highest quality and this is going to define our position among the competitors,” al-Hajri said.

“Qatar Foundation is working hard to maximise the utilisation of solar energy and QSTec is determined to explore all options in this regard,” he added.

Bonnie James, www.gulf-times.com