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Qatar to develop 800 MW solar power plant with Total, Marubeni

Dubai — Qatar plans to develop a 800 MW solar power plant near the capital Doha, in partnership with France's Total and Marubeni of Japan as the Middle East state accelerates its renewables push to free up energy production for export and lower its carbon footprint.

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Qatar's Siraj Energy, in which Qatar Petroleum has a 40% stake, will hold a 60% interest in the al-Kharsaah solar PV power plant, which will cost Riyals 1.7 billion ($470 million), Qatar Petroleum said Sunday in a statement.

Total and Marubeni will share the remaining 40% stake in the project, though the breakdown wasn't specified. The project will follow the Build, Own, Operate and Transfer model for 25 years.

"This plant is the first of its kind in the state of Qatar with a total capacity of 800 MW which equals about 10% of Qatar's current peak electricity demand," Saad al-Kaabi, minister of state for energy affairs and the CEO of Qatar Petroleum, said. "This project comes in implementation of Qatar's policy to diversify the production of energy and to increase reliance on and the efficiency of renewable energy, which is a basic cornerstone for a sustainable future for the generations to come."

In the first phase of the project, 350 MW will be connected to the grid by Q1 2021 while full capacity is expected to start in the Q1 of 2022.

Persian Gulf countries, many of which burn crude and gas to produce energy, are switching to renewable energy to free up oil and gas production for export.

Low solar PV prices have prompted Gulf countries to rely on renewables, which only represented 0.6% of total electricity capacity at the end of 2018, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. The biggest installed renewable capacity in the region is in the UAE, which aims to generate 50% of its power from clean energy by 2050 from about 25% in 2017.