Like Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia, Qatar uses up a lot of its own fossil fuels – either to power energy-intensive desalination plants or complicated subsidies. The emirate is the world’s largest per capita consumer of energy, a topic that has come up time and again at the ongoing COP18 climate talks in Doha, and one of the slowest to respond to the call for emissions reductions. But that doesn’t mean no progress has been made.
This year Qatar joined 16 other industrialised, emerging economies and developing countries in signing the Agreement on the Establishment of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, invests heavily in Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute, and recently announced that it plans to build a $20 billion solar plant.
And most recently the OPEC producer announced at the climate talks that it will begin to seek tenders for an 1,800 megawatt (MW) solar-powered plant in 2014. The $10-$20 billion plant is expected to be complete in 2018 and will be built in a concession format, Reuters reports.
When complete, the new solar-powered facility will bring the small nation’s renewable energy mix up to 16%, which is crucial to its sustainable development, according to its top climate negotiators.
“We need to diversify our energy mix,” said Fahad Bin Mohammed al-Attiya, chairman of the Qatari organizers of climate talks in Doha.
The new plant will produce the energy required to power its own desalination plants, which currently rely on liquefied natural gas (LNG.)
Albeit still controversial, Qatar has demonstrated its capacity and willingness to take a greener turn. The convention center hosting the COP18 event is solar-powered and the state research group GORD unveiled a homegrown hybrid vehicle concept that would produce fewer emissions and use less coal.
And by 2022, Qatar will be able to show off it’s solar-powered football stadiums in time for that year’s World Cup.