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Total set to invest in Qatar's solar sector

Energy giant Total has its sights set on investing in Qatar’s solar sector by establishing partnerships with local companies

Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani met with Patrick Pouyanne, the CEO of Total, and his accompanying delegation, at his office at the Emiri Diwan yesterday. They reviewed bilateral cooperation and means of enhancing it. (image The Peninsula)
Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani met with Patrick Pouyanne, the CEO of Total, and his accompanying delegation, at his office at the Emiri Diwan yesterday. They reviewed bilateral cooperation and means of enhancing it. (image The Peninsula)

Total, global energy giant, plans to invest in Qatar’s emerging solar energy sector, it was revealed during a press conference in Doha on 2 May.

The energy giant has its sights set on investing in Qatar’s solar sector by establishing partnerships with local companies, according to Patrick Pouyanne, the French energy Group’s chairman and CEO.

“We have learnt recently that Qatar Petroleum (QP) is establishing a new company in partnership with Qatar Electricity and Water Company (QEWC), the main producer of utilities in Qatar, in order to develop some solar farms in the country,” said Pouyanne, who was here to mark the 80th anniversary celebrations of the company’s presence in Qatar.

He added: “We have established solar business in Abu Dhabi, and would be pleased to do in Qatar as well. We discussed with officials concerned and intend to study it seriously to establish a joint venture between SunPower and the new company.”

SunPower designs and manufactures crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, roof tiles and solar panels and Total, Europe’s third largest oil company, owns majority stakes in SunPower.

The QEWC and QP have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish a 60:40 JV with an initial capital of about QAR1.82bn ($500m) to develop a solar power project with a capacity of 1,000 megawatt, The Peninsula reports.

Commenting about the impact of oil price volatility on the future of renewables Pouyanne said that if the current oil price persists (which he does not expect) it may put some pressure and lower the growth pace of renewable sources of energy, because the sector partly emerged owing to the prices of oil being very high.

This drove the push for energy efficiency and generated a pursuit for alternative forms of power.

“If the price of oil remains too low, this will neither be good for energy efficiency nor for renewables, as we have witnessed significant improvements in solar technology which has resulted in the continuous decline in the cost,” he added.

Pouyanne said that the oil market is expected to rebalance by year-end or early 2017.

“But we at Total will continue investing about $500m in renewables per year, and continue working to lower the cost further.”

He said that Total has submitted an offer to QP on bidding for Al Shaheen Oil Field, and would be happy to be selected.

Al Shaheen is a big field located off the north east coast of Qatar in the Arabian Gulf, 80 kilometres north of Doha, with a production capacity of over 300,000 barrels per day.

He added: “We are not only producing oil and gas in Qatar.

“We have developed a full spectrum of business activities in the country, including refining, lubricants and petrochemicals, and adding value to almost all segments of our activities in Qatar.”

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