The Arab emirate of Qatar is thinking of moving into the generation of solar thermal electricity.

To this end, the Qatar National Food Security Program (QNSFP) has charged the German Aerospace Center (DLR) with looking for suitable sites for such power plants.

"The emirate of Qatar has excellent conditions for the use of solar energy. The DLR will use its many fields of competence here, from identifying especially suitable sites with the help of satellite data to practical help when constructing such plants and managing projects,” says Ulrich Wagner, DLR Head of Energy, on the agreement.

The QNSFP was set up in 2008 to reduce Qatar’s dependency on food imports. Apart from energy it will require seawater desalination plants to have enough water available for agriculture. As solar thermal power plants can be run as desalination plants in parallel to generating electricity, they are theoretically a good solution. The DLR has been working on this technology for quite some time now. A combined CSP/desalination technology has not yet made it into commercial operation, however.