Solar power technology "has a huge potential" in Qatar despite the country being one of the strongholds of the oil and gas industry in the Middle East, an expert in the field told Gulf Times.
Kim Ahrenfeldt, general manager of Denmark-based SolarDrive, said solar power technology is a billion-dollar industry worldwide. While he did not provide an exact figure, he said it could pump in billions of dollars in investments.
He said he is optimistic in the future of solar technology in Qatar and that it could also be a billion dollar investment even if the country is mostly dependent on its oil and gas sector. "There is also so much sun here," Ahrenfeldt noted.
Ahrenfeldt was at the Hamad International Airport (HIA) to witness the Ministry of Interior's (MoI) launching of its airport service vehicle, a smart car equipped with innovative advanced systems for "intelligent inspection" of the HIA's premises.
His company, SolarDrive, was responsible for producing and installing the solar panels on the canopy of the MoI's smart vehicle. Based in Denmark, Ahrenfeldt said the company has been engineering and producing solar-paneled roofs for electric golf cars and utility vehicles for the past seven years.
Other than cars, Ahrenfeldt explained that solar power technology can also be used in buildings, airports, amusement parks, hotels, or even on shipping containers.
Companies can also cut cost when using cables through long distances such as lighting up highways and installing equipment for border fortification or other remote connections that require the use of wires, Ahrenfeldt said.
The MoI's latest addition to its security arsenal, specifically for its airport security and immigration departments, was conceptualized and designed by Captain Ali Hassan al-Rashid, commander of security systems and technologies in Lekhwiya (Internal Security Force).
When asked if the MoI's smart inspection vehicle could be produced using Qatar's own assembly line, Ahrenfeldt said "it is very possible."
"You have the qualified personnel here so there could be a manufacturing facility in Qatar that could build cars like this. Some of the parts would be imported, of course, but the assembly process would be here," Ahrenfeldt said.
The smart car was a co-production of the MoI and Lekhwiya. The MoI owns the patent for the car while intellectual property was registered to both agencies. Since the blueprint for the vehicle is already available, Ahrenfeldt said it would only take between four to eight weeks to manufacture one smart car.
Mass producing the smart inspection car in Qatar is also plausible, according to Ahrenfeldt.
During the car's launching ceremony, Airport Immigration Department director Lt Col Mohamed Rashid al-Mazrouei told Gulf Times that the MoI is planning to produce more smart cars to be used at the HIA, as well as sports stadiums, land and seaports, border, and checkpoint areas between Qatar and Saudi Arabia.