QEERI’s Energy Center leverages unique capabilities and resources to support Qatar’s first utility-scale solar plant.
Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI), part of Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), is playing a pivotal role in supporting the operations of the 800MWp Al Kharsaah Solar Power Plant, initially inaugurated on October 18.
Having provided services since the plant’s development and construction phases, QEERI’s exceptional data and solar forecasting resources will continue benefiting its operations. QEERI’s best-in-class capabilities enable the provision of solar irradiation and other meteorological data that would otherwise not be easily performed on a large utility-scale plant.
The pioneering Al Kharsaah is the first large-scale photovoltaic (PV) plant in Qatar. Built, owned, and operated by the Siraj-1 consortium, the plant includes more than 1,800,000 solar panels and the latest technologies, including bifacial PV modules mounted on sun trackers. It has the capacity to cover around 10% of the country’s peak electricity demand and avoid 26 million metric tons of CO2.
QEERI’s Energy Center has contributed its exceptional data and solar forecasting resources to Siraj-1 since May 2019. QEERI installed a high precision solar monitoring and weather station in Al Kharsaah to collect data relevant to the plant’s development and operation. The data was used by the Engineering, Procurement and Construction contractor. It also provides the basic training material for the solar forecasting service that QEERI developed to support plant operations. During construction, the Energy Center team performed pilot drone survey services with Terabase Energy to inspect the site.
The Energy Center’s role in the project is significant, given that QEERI is recognized as the major point of reference in Qatar for high quality solar resources and services as well as PV performance and reliability. Having supported Siraj-1 during the development phase, QEERI has historical local data and real test measurements of key parameters affecting the PV module and system performance and reliability. The data will help to optimize, improve, and adapt the plant operations to the particularities of Qatar’s harsh desert climate, especially the long-term challenges.
Dr. Veronica Bermudez, Senior Research Director at the Energy Center, commented: “Siraj-1 is the keystone project paving the way and supporting the development of sustainable energy in Qatar, and is a major milestone for the entire region. Its innovative technology will be the flagship for future PV projects in the country and confirmation of the emerging PV market in the region.
“With the Al Kharsaah solar PV plant, Qatar joins a growing cadre of nations leading the way in the path towards net zero, using the most advanced technologies. QEERI is honored to support this endeavor by applying the Energy Center’s expertise, capabilities, and assets in energy management and energy conversion.”
Moving forward, QEERI’s contribution will continue to be paramount in supporting plant operations through solar, albedo and soiling analysis, and forecasting services specific to the site, including weather factors and long term sustainability and reliability. Its expertise will ensure performance and reliability analysis services for the PV panels and related components, advice on PV cleaning scheduling and automated PV cleaning solutions, and advice on monitoring, control, and integration of the PV plant with the national grid.
Dr. Marc Vermeersch, QEERI Executive Director, noted: “Having supported the Siraj-1 project since its initiation, QEERI is pleased to be able to witness this major milestone and of course, extend our expertise to support the plant operations. As the most active national research institute in this field in Qatar, QEERI is in the position to contribute data, modeling, and insights that will enable efficient and optimized operations. Al Kharsaah’s success advances the recognition that solar-powered processes are the best option for Qatar in terms of sustainability and climate change risk mitigation.”