Qatar Solar has purchased a stake in SolarWorld AG to give the firm a much needed fiscal boost. Called the BMW of solar panel producers, the German firm has been struggling to compete against China’s flood of cheap, generic photovoltaic panels.
Although it is Germany’s largest solar panel producer, Arabian Gazette reports, SolarWorld AG has struggled to get off its knees since Germany cut its Feed in Tariff (FiT) – a subsidy system first instituted to help renewable energy producers keep with fossil fuel.
Then China flooded the market with cheap, generic solar panels that are suited to standard weather conditions.
Although in debt, there is still a market for high quality solar panels that can withstand harsh conditions such as Qatar’s hot and dry desert territory.
A small emirate bordering Saudi Arabia and the world’s third highest producer of natural gas, Qatar has good reason to see SolarWorld AG succeed.
The small predominantly Arab nation intends to spend up to $20 billion to supply 1,800 MW of solar energy by 2014, according to Arabian Gazette. Which means its going to need a reliable supplier of high end PV panels that will survive high winds, high heat, and a lot of dust.
QatarSolar, 100 percent owned by the privately owned Qatar Foundation founded by His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani in 1995, has purchased a 29 percent stake in the German firm, which has factories in both the United States and Germany.
Meanwhile, SolarWorld AG founder Frank Asbeck will pump €10 million of his own funds into the project as well.
Like Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia, Qatar has recognized the importance of producing solar power as an antidote to its population’s reliance on fossil fuels. By reducing its own internal demand for natural gas and oil, the emirate can secure its most reliable export commodity.
But there’s something even more significant about this move.
While nations across the globe are struggling under the weight of recession, the Gulf countries still have a lot of capital to throw around. Increasingly, Qatar in particular has used the opportunity to invest in projects across Europe.
For example, Qatar owns 95 percent of The Shard in London – a Renzo Piano skyscraper that drew a great deal of criticism for its height, insensitive placement, and for the Gulf nation’s involvement.