Many of the emerging solar markets are hot - both literally and metaphorically - because of their abundant sunshine hours and geographical locations. Solar investors no longer look to developed solar markets such as Germany and Italy as the governments of the two countries continue to reduce solar incentives. Solar firms are turning their focus to emerging solar markets such as Japan, China, the US, India and the Middle East.
France-based gas and oil firm, Total, is currently eyeing the solar market in Qatar, according to a report from Gulf Times. Total is also a large shareholder of US-based solar firm SunPower, owning 66%, according to the same report.
Arnaud Chaperon, Total senior vice-president (New Energies Division), stated that Qatar may achieve renewable energy capacity of 1,800MW by 2018, according to the report.
That is a lot of renewable energy capacity. Of course, not all will be solar installations but the figure is quite impressive. According to Wikipedia, the largest solar power plant in the world that is currently running is the Agua Caliente Solar Project in the US with installed capacity of 397MW, due to achieve full completion in 2014. The second largest solar power plant is the Charanka Solar Park in India that has a total of 214MW of installed capacity.
People might wonder why a rich country with lots of oil and natural gas like Qatar wants to generate electricity from renewable energy. I believe the reason is that every country hopes to save electricity-generating costs and reduce carbon emissions. In fact, Qatar had the highest carbon dioxide emissions per capita in the world for the past 18 years, according to Wikipedia. Most of the carbon emissions in Qatar were from natural gas processing, air-conditioning, water desalination and electricity generation, said Wikipedia. Sunshine is free, although solar panels are not. However, by saving costs and reducing carbon emissions by adopting solar energy, Qatar can have higher profit margins for its oil and natural gas export business and cleaner air for the people to enjoy. Simple.