Posted on September 26, 2019

GORD, a non-profit organization leading the regional sustainability landscape, has launched a new course on renewable energy solutions. The course titled “Techno-Economic Evaluation of PV Systems” was the first-of-its-kind workshop held on September 18 and 19 at Qatar National Convention Center.

Considering MENA’s unique climate, solar offers the most abundant and ready source of clean energy. However, renewable energy projects deploying such solutions are sparse in the region. To bridge this gap, GORD’s specialized course on solar PV systems is designed to educate professionals and organizations about the practicality of utilizing solar energy, guiding them about the pros and cons of various elements to achieve the best performance of the system.    

During the two-day intensive workshop, specialists from GORD’s Research Institute and TechnoHub research facility trained practitioners in designing PV systems and shared insights on types and suitability of various types of PV panels available in the market. Starting from the fundamentals of a PV system, instructors of the course took the audience through to complex calculations of electrical loads, system performance and its economic feasibility. Attendees also had a chance to visit TechnoHub research facility, where experts demonstrated technical aspects and operations of a PV system.   

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Through its Center of Excellence, Global Sustainability Academy, GORD provides opportunities for practitioners and scholars to learn and develop their capacities in areas related to the sustainable built environment. Introduction of a specialized course on renewable solar energy will provide more depth to an already thorough curriculum covering sustainability within the built environment. “Such workshops were not previously undertaken, so it is a beneficial program,” said Varun Potbhare, Sustainability Manager for Doha Port Project at ASTAD Project Management. 

Commenting on the need to introduce a course on solar energy technologies, GORD’s Founding Chairman, Dr. Yousef Alhorr said, “Considering the steep reduction in the cost of renewable energy, we see a strong inclination to deploy solar solutions. However, the region’s dusty climate also poses its unique set of challenges. Understanding the optimum combination of design, types, site, and mechanics is crucial for the success of a PV system. The Techno Economics of PV Systems is designed to address this need.” Resonating with Dr. Yousef’s observation, Potbhare said, “There was a lack of understanding about the benefits of solar PV, but now there is much momentum. I see a lot more projects demanding solar PVs in the future.”

The participants in the course were engineers, technicians and operators responsible for design, operations and maintenance of electrical and electro-mechanical systems, representing leading organizations such as the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, Qatar Foundation, Public Works Authority (Ashghal), Qatar Rail and Qatar’s Ministry of Municipality and Environment. Adding context to his presence at the event, Abdulrahman Ali Al Muftah, representing the Sustainability & Environment department at the Supreme Committee, said, “We are trying to expand our knowledge on PV panels, and maximize our use within our stadiums for the World Cup in every way possible. The more we learn about it, the easier it will be to approach this area.” Saoud Al Janahi, Mechanical Engineer at Qatar Rail, added, “As we are planning to study the impact and effect of installing solar panels in our projects, we had a chance to enhance our knowledge on their installation to benefit our needs.”

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Apart from designing, installation and techno economics of PV systems, GORD experts also shared insights on the regional suitability of various combinations based on their research findings at TechnoHub. Participants of the workshop unanimously agreed that attending the course will help them make right decisions about PV systems in the future. “For me, knowledge of the right product is the key takeaway from this workshop. Now we know what to look for in the market,” said Potbhare. Georgios Sichanis, Building Automation Manager, Qatar Foundation, commented, “Solar has a very high potential, and we hope to expand this. The direction of Qatar National Vision 2030 is to achieve sustainability and to proceed with photovoltaics.”

During the workshop, Dr. Yousef Alhorr invited practitioners to provide their feedback and suggestions on topics they believed should be covered within GORD's sustainability courses. “The idea here is to build the capacity of public and private organizations for the mission of advancing and promoting sustainability implementation,” he said.

Among the participants was Ahmed Abbas, Assistant Manager Industrial Telecom at Dolphin Energy. Currently, he is studying the efficiency and feasibility of adopting solar energy in Dolphin Energy’s plant for limited applications. With the study now drafted, Abbas came to attend the workshop to find expert insights, especially on cost, before taking his project to the next level. When asked for a feedback, Abbas expects to see more programs that can streamline the supply side of PV systems. “The next step after gaining knowledge is to implement it. If there is a list of suppliers provided, it will be helpful.  We need to know who can supply right products in Qatar.”