Qatar, even though the largest global producer of gas, understands and values the importance of clean technologies, including renewable energy and energy efficiency. The Middle Eastern country has been taking many necessary strides to become a major cleantech player, including increasing its cleantech research, development, and projects, and hosting some of the top global conferences on cleantech topics.
1) Qatar Sustainability Conference. Each year, Qatar holds the Qatar Sustainability Conference, which provides innovations in construction materials and various applications that will improve sustainability throughout the construction industry. It is done via panel discussions, round tables, as well as workshops, which are prepared for an international and local audience. The 2011 conference will be focusing on topics such as “Sustainable Technologies for Challenging Environments” and “Towards a ‘Sustained’ Public Awareness.”
2) Qatar International Environment Protection Expo. The Qatar International Exhibition on Environment Protection Technologies and Sustainable Energy showcases products and technologies that assist with sustainable energy. It attracts numerous international organizations as well as companies that cover a number of environmental sectors, including renewable energy, waste management, recycling, solar systems, energy-saving products, green buildings, and others. Dr. Saif Al Hajari, Vice Chairperson of the Qatar Foundation, stated It is important to increase the environment awareness among communities, individuals, as well as the business sector to encourage initiatives and efforts that aim to achieve sustainable development.” It also attracts a number companies and organizations that specialize in sustainable energy and environmental technologies.
3) Lowering Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Qatar, after learning in 2007 from the United Nations Human Development Report that its per capita greenhouse gas emissions where the highest in the world, has taken pro-active measures to lower the numbers. Qatar started a $70 million, ten year joint research project with Qatar Petroleum, Shell, Qatar Science and Technology Park, and Imperial College London to reduce its carbon footprint to maintain its position as the world’s largest producer of gas. According to the prime minister Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, “As a major resource holder in a time of rising demand for oil and gas, Qatar is keenly aware of the need to balance the energy security concerns of our customers with the need to preserve the environment.”
4) Chevron and GreenGulf Studying Solar Technology. GreenGulf Inc., a clean technology company located in Qatar, and Chevron Qatar World Energy Technology signed a memorandum of understanding to create a joint study which will test solar energy technologies and how they may be applied in Qatar. All research is said to be one at the Qatar Science and Technology Park. This project will support the park’s strategy for assisting in the development of a Qatar national solar energy industry. The data obtained will assist in the planning, evaluation, selection, and installation of technologies best suited for local conditions.
5) The Center for Sustainable Energy Efficiency. The Center for Sustainable Energy Efficiency is a project established by the Chevron Corporation and the Qatar Science and Technology Park. Opened in late 2009, is to “research the development and application of renewable energy generation, and will collaborate with the many universities in Qatar, other QSTP tenants and local developers to develop and train young Qatari engineers, scientists and students.”According to Tidu Maini, QSTP’s executive chairman, “Finding smarter ways of using energy is no less important in Qatar than in the rest of the world. By taking a multidisciplinary and collaborative approach to energy research, Chevron’s QSTP centre will help position Qatar at the forefront of environmental technologies globally.”
6) Qatar Obtains Membership to the International Renewable Energy Agency. In mid-2010, Qatar received a bid to join the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). As a new member of IRENA, Qatar pledged to increase the utilization of renewable energy and energy efficiency in their national policies. To join IRENA, Qatar had to prove its role in the enhancement of energy security, its promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, its ability to alleviate energy poverty, its support in sustainable development, as well as its ability to boost economic growth.
7) Solar Schools Project. Qatar’s GreenGulf Inc. showcased a new initiative to assist in powering schools in Qatar with solar energy. The project, done in association with SolarWorld and Qatar School Technologies, looks to install solar panels in four schools while providing education on the benefits of solar energy and renewable energy technologies with the students. CEO of GreenGulf, Omran Al Kuwari said, “We hope that this new teaching model will get students excited about science while at the same time encouraging environmentally responsible behavior that they will carry with them into adulthood.”
8 ) Qatar-Germany Accord on Renewable Energy. Germany, seen as one of the longstanding leaders in clean technologies, recently signed an accord with Qatar on technical and scientific cooperation in the area of renewable energy. Since then, many Germany companies, including SolarWorld, have come into Qatar, investing millions of dollars in different renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
9) 2022 World Cup in Qatar Powered by Renewable Energy. Because of the heat in Qatar, the country is employing a number of renewable energy tactics to show off its new sustainability features, which includes all stadiums and fan areas having air conditioners run by solar panels. This project aims to showcase large-scale renewable energy development in the desert environment. Not only is Qatar looking to have all stadiums be carbon neutral, but they are also boosting public transportation by installing 320 kilometers of metro rail lines to reduce the number of drivers, thereby reducing carbon emissions.
10) SolarWorld to Built First Arabian Polysilicon Plant in Qatar. In mid-2010, Germany’s SolarWorld provided $500 million in funds to assist in the building of the first Arabian Peninsula polysilicon production plant. It will be located in Qatar’s northeast, in Ras Laffan Industrial City where it will have access to chemicals infrastructure along with favorable energy prices. This venture will produce 3,600 tons of high-purity polysilicon yearly in the plant beginning in 2012’s third quarter.
Article by Shawn Lesser, president and founder of Atlanta-based Sustainable World Capital, which is focused on fund-raising for private equity cleantech/sustainable funds, as well as private cleantech companies and M&A. He is also a co- founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association, and can be reached at email@example.com