The desert solar farm that helped to power the World Cup

Photo credit: Total Energies.

By Anders Lorenzen

Much has been made of the world governing body FIFA and Qatar greenwashing this year’s World Cup. But wanting to show they take sustainability and their climate commitments seriously, a month before the biggest football tournament and one of the world’s largest sporting events kicked off, Qatar inaugurated a large new giant solar farm in the desert.

Situated west of the capital Doha in al-Kharsaah, the solar farm is one of the biggest in the Middle East. It is a joint venture between the French energy giant TotalEneries and Japan’s Marubeni company, and apart from helping to green the World Cup, it is seen as a push by Qatar to invest in solar power to diversify its energy mix, at least at home.

Over a million solar panels

The project cost 1.7 billion Qatari riyals (around $467 million) and consists of 1.8 million solar panels that cover an area of more than  10 square kilometres. It will have a generating capacity of 800 megawatts (MW), and it is estimated it will provide 10% of the country’s energy supply. In addition, Qatar’s Energy Minister Saad Sherida al-Kaabi said there are plans to expand it further in the coming years.

The project is just the latest in a series of solar projects announced by the tiny Gulf State, all going some way towards helping to achieve a target of five gigawatts (GW) of solar energy capacity by 2035. Two further projects announced in August will more than double Qatar’s solar energy output within the next two years.

While the solar farm will contribute to greening the energy supply used during the World Cup, it is unlikely it will cover it completely.

Due to the high amount of solar radiation they receive, deserts are seen as one of the most efficient places to locate solar farms.

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