Qatari Ambition

Qatar is feeling the effects of increasing urbanisation.

Desalination capacity in Qatar is set to rise.
Desalination capacity in Qatar is set to rise.

Like its GCC neighbours, Qatar is feeling the effects of increasing urbanisation and industrialisation. Rising demand for power and water is leading to huge investments into the utilities sector, and an increasingly diverse energy supply.

Subject to the scorching desert heat, Qatar is racing to keep up with the demands for power and water of its citizens.

This is no easy task. In 2009, consumption of electricity increased by 14 percent, while water use went up by eight percent. Qatar has turned to public-private enterprise to deal with this challenge.

Independent Power and Water Plants (IWPPs) have been key in coping with the dual demand for electricity and water. The first IWPP, Ras Laffan A, started operations in 2004. Ras Laffan C, now known as Ras Girtas, is destined to be the largest IWPP in Qatar, is due to become operational in April 2011.

Media reports in January suggested that Qatar would also award a contract for a 2,000MW power plant during 2010. The plant is estimated to cost between US$2.5bn and $3bn and would be operational by 2012-2013, if awarded by the end of the year.

Alternative Thinking
Qatar is looking to diversify its energy supply, and is exploring nuclear and solar power options. In November 2008, Qatar announced plans to launch a preliminary study into the viability of developing a nuclear power plant in the country. The study will look for an appropriate site and assess potential to link the plant to the grid. Both Russia and France are looking to capitalise on Qatar’s nuclear ambitions.

Then, in January this year, Qatar announced that it was seeking to construct a major new solar power plant. Reports suggest that nearly 25 local and international companies are in discussions for the launch of the plant, which will require an investment of $1bn.

In addition, the Qatar Foundation announced a joint venture with German company SolarWorld, to produce polysilicon, the main ingredient in solar panels, at a $500 million plant in northern Qatar.

The Qatar Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa) has commissioned France’s Sogreah to carry out a feasibility study for what would be Qatar’s first solar-powered desalination plants.

The company has been asked to look at establishing several plants. Kahramaa has suggested using parabolic trough solar technology and multi-effect distillation, though Sogreah will make its own recommendation on which technology to use and where to situate the plants.

The wastewater sector
Ashghal, the public works authority, is currently mulling the outsourcing of the running and maintenance of parts of the wastewater sector. The contract for a three-year feasibility study for such a move is expected to be awarded later in the first half of the year.

Qatar’s first major sewage treatment plant, built in the 1960s, was Doha South, then a 12,000m3/d facility. It has been expanded over the years to its present capacity of around 106,000 cubic meters per day.

It is maintained and operated by Veolia, which was awarded the contract in April 2009. Ashghal is now looking to add another 80,000 cubic meters per day of treatment capacity.

One of the latest facilities is the Doha North sewage treatment plant, commissioned by Ashghal. Due to become operational in 2011, it will have the biggest capacity of any of Qatar’s sewage plant at 40,000 million cubic meters per day, and is a major plank in Ashghal’s strategy to keep pace with growing demand.

Nuclear Notions
Both Russia and France are already lining up to cooperate with Qatar on possible nuclear ventures. In January 2008, France’s EDF signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Qatar for discussions of cooperation in nuclear power production.

In October 2008, Russia and Qatar discussed the possibility of working together to develop nuclear power including initiating a draft agreement. Limited progress has been reported on Qatar’s nuclear plans over the past year.

QEWC and Kahramaa
The Qatar Electricity and Water Company (QEWC) was established in 1990 as the government’s main vehicle for investment in the sector. The state holds a 43 percent stake in the company, with the rest owned by private investors.

The company is involved in virtually all large power and water projects in the country, so it is the main partner for foreign and domestic private investors.

In July 2009, the company announced an 18 percent rise in first-half net profit to US$114 million, boosted by interest income from joint ventures. The company said sales rose 20 percent, but did not provide a figure.

QEWC hopes to use the experience gained in Qatar to turn into a regional player. The Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa) was established in 2000 as an independent corporation operating on a commercial basis.

Kahramaa is responsible for the regulation of the water industry, and for setting water tariffs, which have been heavily subsidised for decades. Kahramaa also owns projects and develops strategy for the water sector. In power sector, the corporation’s focus is on transmission and distribution.

Ras Laffan A to the C
The first Independent Power and Water Project (IWPP) in Qatar, Ras Laffan A, was built by the Ras Laffan Power Company, a joint venture between the AES Corporation, who hold 55 percent, QEWC (25 percent), Qatar Petroleum (10 percent) and the Gulf Investment Corporation of Kuwait (10 percent). 

Completed in 2004, Ras Laffan A generates 750MW and produces 151 million litres of desalinated water per day.

Ras Laffan B started production in 2008. The plant was constructed by Q-Power, a consortium comprising the Qatar Electricity and Water Corporation, holding 55 percent, the UK’s International Power (40 percent), and Japan’s Chubu Electric Power (5 percent).

At a cost of US$900 million, it generates 1,025MW and produces 60 million gallons of water. Completing the power hat-trick will be Ras Laffan C. Renamed Ras Girtas, the plant will be Qatar’s, and the GCC’s, largest IWPP, with a generating capacity of 2,730MW and 286,000 cubic meters of desalinated water.

The Qatari-incorporated Ras Girtas Power Company (RGPC) will own, operate and manage the project. In March 2008, GDF Suez and Mitsui were awarded the contract to built the IWPP.

The consortium will hold a 40 percent stake, with Qatar Petroleum and the Qatar Electricity and Water Corporation splitting the remaining 60 percent. Construction started in May 2009, and the plant is expected to be operational in April 2011 at a cost of $3.7 billion.

Hyundai Engineering and Construction, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and ABB have all received contract relating to the project.

On the rise
Desalinated water produced per year, in million cubic meters

2008 – 207 e
2009 – 222 f
2010 – 254 f
2011 – 279 f
2012 – 297 f
2013 – 307 f

e = estimated
f = forecast


  • 9GW Power generating capacity in 2011.
  • 8 percent increase in water consumption in 2009.
  • 14 percent increase in power consumption in 2009.

This article is based on information compiled in the Qatar Infrastructure Report Q2 2010, and the Qatar Water Report Q2, 2010 published by Business Monitor International (BMI). For more information, go to


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