Qatar Solar Technologies (QSTec) has announced it will build a US$1 billion polysilicon manufacturing plant in Ras Laffan Industrial City.
The plant is expected to produce 8,000 metric tons of polysilicon per year. QSTec expects the facility to be operational in the second half of 2013. Dr. Khalid K Al Hajri, CEO of QSTec said the plant will serve both domestic and foreign energy needs. “By utilizing Qatar’s resources today to make polysilicon, which in turn creates a variety of solar energy technologies and products, we are helping the global transformation towards a more diversified mix of clean energy solutions.”
Qatar made a cleantech splash earlier in the year when the country’s state-owned investment corporation purchased a 6.2% stake in one of the world’s largest wind energy companies, Iberdrola S.A. The tiny Persian Gulf nation, which holds 12th largest proven reserve of oil and gas, is increasingly looking to diversify its economy.
According to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s latest data, Qatar had the largest economic growth rate in 2010. And, although oil and gas account for 50% of the country’s GDP and 85% of its exports, the government’s economic policy is focused on developing other areas of its economy.
Jumping into the solar industry is not a bad place to start. Globally the industry has boomed over the past several years. Solarbuzz reports that solar photovoltaic installations reached a record high 18.2 gigawatts in 2010, while global revenues topped $82 billion. Installations and revenue grew more than 100% compared to 2009.
An more pertinent financial example for Qatar’s latest clean energy development, might be the United States. Last year, the U.S. saws it PV manufacturing industry have a record year, generating $5.6 billion in export revenue. What was the primary driver of this growth? Production of PV polysilicon feedstock, which produced $2.5 billion in export income.
It is precisely in this growing niche market that Qatar Solar Technologies, a joint venture between Qatar Solar, SolarWorld AG and Qatar Development Bank, hopes to make its mark and capture some of the economic bounty burgeoning solar industry.
Image credit: Daniel R. Blume via Flickr