Solar Atlas aims to help accelerate and optimize use of solar energy
Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI), part of Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), recently released the first Qatar Solar Atlas, a tool that quantifies the country’s solar resource and its geographical distribution as a first step toward accelerating the use of more solar energy across the country.
A culmination of research work conducted over the last five years by QEERI’s Energy Center, the Solar Atlas aims to support the development of progressive national policies on solar-based sustainable energy. It also aims to identify new profitable investments and markets to drive the creation of “green” jobs and a technological innovation ecosystem.
In doing so, the Solar Atlas will contribute to the Qatar National Vision 2030 and the goals and targets of the Global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It will serve as an important tool for building a climate-resilient, prosperous, and sustainable future where renewable energy has a significant penetration rate within the country’s energy mix, in a reliable, business-efficient manner.
The comprehensive Solar Atlas includes a vast amount of accumulated data with high time and space resolutions, and sophisticated algorithms to process and convert them into a powerful tool for energy stakeholders in Qatar and beyond. Converting solar energy into a usable energy vector such as electricity requires a detailed and accurate estimation of the available resource to allow such conversion to be an economically viable industrial activity and the preferred choice in terms of electricity generation.
Dr. Veronica Bermudez, Senior Research Director, Energy Center, explained: “An accurate understanding of regional solar energy characteristics improves decision-making processes for the selection of the best technologies and solutions to be used, as well as the definition of targeted policies and investments.
“The Atlas presents the results of the solar resource assessment and mapping activities done at the Energy Center at QEERI. It uses existing ground-measured radiometric data that has been compared with available solar radiation data derived from satellite images in order to generate a model which, after proper validation, has been used to fit satellite data optimally to the local conditions in the country. Qatar is at the heart of the global solar belt and is blessed with abundant solar energy, and the solar map is the first step toward optimizing the use of these resources and being able to forecast thermal or photovoltaic electricity production.”
The Solar Atlas combines the use of models, machine learning algorithms, and data to explain the methodologies and outcomes of the solar resource and solar power potential assessment and forecasting. It documents the uncertainty of solar and meteorological data, which are key elements in the technical and financial evaluation of solar energy conversion systems and provides solutions to minimize financial and technological risks. The other key objective is to improve the awareness and knowledge of resources for solar energy technologies by producing a comprehensive countrywide dataset and maps based on the highly accurate models developed by QEERI. The Atlas evaluates key solar climatic features, and the geographic and time variability of solar power potential in the country, with solutions to solar and power production forecasting.
Dr. Marc Vermeersch, Executive Director, QEERI, said: “We are very pleased and proud to launch the country’s first Solar Atlas; our motivation has always been to assist Qatar in tackling the grand challenges associated with energy and the environment. Our Energy Center, with its expert pool of researchers, scientists, and engineers, along with the state-of-the-art facilities at QEERI such as the Outdoor Test Facility and the PV Reliability Lab, and our network of 15 solar monitoring stations across Qatar, has persevered to develop this Atlas. It is one of our tangible contributions to the sustainability initiatives of HBKU and Qatar Foundation.”
Across its various centers and programs, QEERI is consistently working towards supporting Qatar in addressing crucial questions related to energy, water, and the environment. To access the QEERI Solar Atlas, please click here.
For more information on the work of Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute, please visit qeeri.hbku.edu.qa.