Chevron Tinkers With Solar In Qatar
Can a global oil and gas company really create a foundation for clean energy in the Middle East? Chevron claims they are on the forefront of energy efficiency initiatives in Qatar. So far the San Ramon based company has invested $10 million in Qatar’s Center for Sustainable Energy Efficiency (CSEE), one part of the company’s commitment to the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP). Technologies under study include solar, which would clearly benefit from the Gulf Region’s ample sunlight. But with the mercury easily approaching 50C (120F) in the summer, photovoltaic panels actually perform worse than they do in more mild climates. There is no regular rain to wash off the dust that builds up on these panels, and furthermore, PVs’ performance worsen as local heat intensifies. Many projects like that between Chevron and Green Gulf smack of token public relations efforts. But Qatar’s commitment to developing solar technologies is smart business. More use of renewables at home means pragmatically that the country can sell more of its natural gas abroad. Of course, Qatar’s leaders have got to find a way to lean on its people to become more aware of their energy consumption. Doubts aside, more efforts such as Chevron’s in Qatar are needed. Your head may shake at this very thought, but with its riches, the Middle East may actually lead the way into guiding us out of this energy mess that this growing planet has found itself in. And with that 2022 World Cup sneaking up on Qatar, this little country has a long way to go before it proves that it can put its sustainability big boy pants on. Photo of Qatar’s countryside courtesy Leon Kaye.