FIFA World Cup Qatar is about to enter the knockout stage. This World Cup is known as the "Ragnarök". There are some unexpected winners in the group matches, which stir up hot debates and will certainly generate more attention going into the knockout stage. As a photovoltaic man, in addition to supporting my favorite team, but also concerned about the development of the host photovoltaic situation.
Hosting the Most Expensive World Cup
According to the IMF, Qatar's GDP per capita in 2022 is expected to be as high as $82,887, making it the 5th richest country in the world in terms of GDP per capita, and a veritable Middle East tycoon. Qatar has spent more than $220 billion to host the World Cup, five times the cost of the previous seven World Cups combined, making it the most expensive World Cup in history.
Oil and gas have brought Qatar a steady stream of wealth, and electricity is used without pain. Qatar has one of the highest per capita electricity consumption in the world, with 15,236.23 kWh in 2020, compared to 6,692.89 kWh in Germany in the same year. Surrounded by sea on three sides, Qatar is a typical peninsular country with very hot summers and only slightly cooler winters. This is one of the reasons why Qatar chose to host the World Cup in winter.
Typical tropical desert climate of Qatar, the terrain is flat, most of the area is covered with sandy desert, high temperature and dry, precipitation is scarce, very suitable for building photovoltaic power plants. (How Does Weather Affect PV Modules?)
Building the Most Luxurious PV Plant
On October 18, 2022, Al Kharsaah, the first large-scale ground-mounted solar power plant in Qatar's history and currently the third largest single photovoltaic plant in the world, was officially announced to be connected to the grid at full capacity. Located 80 kilometers west of the Qatari capital Doha, the PV plant covers an area of 1,000 hectares, equivalent to 1,400 soccer fields. Developed by TotalEnergies, QatarEnergy and Marubeni, the project has a total investment of over US$460 million. With a total installed capacity of 800MW, the project is expected to provide 1.8 billion kilowatt/hours of clean energy per year, satisfy the electricity consumption of about 300,000 households and reduce nearly 900,000 tons of CO2 emissions.
The power plant uses a total of 2 million bifacial PV modules, all of which are supplied by Chinese company LONGi. At the same time, a single-axis PV tracker is used to track the sun around the clock, and the PV panels capture the direct rays of the sun on one side and the reflected light from the ground on the other side, significantly increasing the power generation capacity. It is understood that the plant can meet 10% of Qatar's peak electricity demand and reduce 26 million tons of CO₂ emissions over its entire life cycle.
At the same time, in order to increase power generation and reduce post-operation and maintenance costs, the PV plant is equipped with an intelligent robotic arm for cleaning PV modules, which cleans dust and sand from each module every four days.
Carbon Neutral, Global Action
As part of Qatar's National Vision 2030, the plant is a first in Qatar's new energy generation sector, significantly increasing the share of photovoltaic in Qatar's energy consumption and reducing carbon emissions, and was successfully connected to the grid before the World Cup, fulfilling Qatar's commitment to host a "carbon-neutral" World Cup.
Currently, the world is facing the challenge of energy transition, in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, control the degree of temperature change, and reduce reliance on fossil energy, it is vital to promote the development of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. 2021, the world spent $755 billion on the deployment of low-carbon energy technologies, an increase of 27% year-on-year. No matter how rich a country is, it can't do without the support of new energy sources to enhance its energy production and supply security capacity, and the richer a country is, the more it needs to combine with new energy sources to meet the growing demand for electricity, thus supporting its energy transition!