Date established 2000
Main business sectors Electricity transmission and distribution, water supply and storage
Main business region Qatar
President Essa Hilal al-Kuwari
Telephone (+974) 4 484 5555
272,159: Electricity customers in Qatar in 2011
5,497MW: Peak power demand in 2011
8,761MW: Installed power capacity in 2011
When Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation (Kahramaa) was established in July 2000, it brought responsibility for the supply of power and water into one corporation. Control was formerly with the electricity & water ministry.
At the end of 2002, it was decided to separate out the responsibility for power generation to the Qatar Electricity & Water Company (QEWC), which was established as a private company to build, own, operate and maintain the power and water plants.
Kahramaa became the offtaker, buying power and water from QEWC’s seven plants, as well as purchasing the output from Qatar’s four internationally owned independent water and power plants and selling it on to customers.
The organisation is run through three main departments and aided by a fourth that contains support functions, such as legal issues, human resources, administration and information technology. The electricity network department is responsible for strategic planning of the power sector. It carries out transmission and distribution network planning, operation and maintenance to meet current and future needs and ensure the provision of day-to-day supply.
The department has three subdivisions: electricity transmission; electricity distribution; and electricity network planning.
The water network division oversees Qatar’s water sector. Its role is to ensure stable and sustainable water supply for the country, which includes supervising water network development, operation, maintenance loss and control programmes. It also has three subdivisions: water operation and maintenance; field services; and water network planning.
The technical affairs department is responsible for coordination of policies and strategies across the company. It updates all technical specifications and material codes as well as preparing and developing designs for projects. It has four internal divisions: electricity projects; water projects; general services; and materials.
Kahramaa has 272,159 electricity customers and 225,821 water customers. These numbers have been rising rapidly in line with the country’s growing economy. The number of its electricity customers increased by 16 per cent in 2010 from 234,620 and the number of water customers rose by 21.6 per cent.
Power is purchased from either QEWC or one of the country’s private power plants, Ras Laffan A, Ras Laffan B, Ras Laffan C and Mesaieed A.
QEWC has a stake in all private power plants, but other developer partners include Qatar Petroleum, Japan’s Marubeni, Chubu and Yonden, the UK/France’s International Power and the US firm AES. In 2011, Qatar’s total installed capacity was 8,761MW, while peak demand was 5,497MW. This gives Qatar the largest reserve margin in the GCC at 38 per cent.
Almost all of Qatar’s water (99.9 per cent) is provided through desalination and is purchased by Kahramaa from the power plant developers who use the excess heat from power generation to desalinate sea water.
Only 0.1 per cent of annual production comes from the northern groundwater aquifer. The safe abstraction level for this is just 27 million cubic metres a year, compared with total demand of 235 million gallons a day (g/d) or 277 million cubic metres a year.
Kahramaa buys electricity under 25- to 30-year purchase agreements and transports it via a network of more than 3,000 kilometres of overhead cables and double circuit cables.
For water supplies, it uses a network of storage reservoirs, pumping stations and pipelines to ensure demand is always met.
Kahramaa estimates that it will have invested more than $20bn in Qatar’s power and water sector between 2000 and 2012, with $15bn invested in power projects.
These have included increasing the number of transmission substations from 87 to 269, increasing the number of distribution substations to 10,000 and expanding the length of cable and overhead lines across all voltages.
By the end of 2012, Kahramaa hopes to have increased its mains network to 4,682km of pipework from 1,936km in 2000, as well as implementing a supervisory control and data acquisition system to enable real-time monitoring and expanding its network of reservoirs and pumping stations.
Thanks to long-term planning and continuous investment, Kahramaa has engineered itself into an enviable position when it comes to ensuring that power generation keeps up with demand. Its reserve margin is by far the highest in the region and means that Qatar is capable of exporting power through the GCC interconnector.
Its transmission and distribution network is now in the tenth phase of expansion, which according to regional projects tracker MEED Projects saw $153m-worth of contracts awarded for the installation of power cables and overhead lines and $630m in substation contracts in 2011.
The company must now replicate this success in the water sector, where delivering additional storage capacity is a priority. It has already made good progress in upgrading the network and delivering new desalination capacity, but in terms of long-term security, more storage is required.
Kahramaa has a strong track record in project delivery so the challenge of building new reservoirs and recharging groundwater should be well within the organisation’s capabilities. Securing adequate internal resources, however, remains a key challenge for the company, and it is investing heavily in training and development, particularly for local employees.
Water demand in Qatar is expected to reach 361 million g/d by 2020, representing growth of 10 per cent a year, and more than four times the demand of 83 million g/d recorded in 2000. In 2011, consumption peaked at 235 million g/d and almost 100 per cent was met through desalination.
Qatar has seven major desalination plants in two locations, Ras Abu Fontas and Ras Laffan, with a combined capacity of 325 million g/d. Demand in the country is set to exceed this between 2016 and 2017.
Supplementing these major units are small-scale reverse osmosis plants that provide water in rural areas in the far north and south of the state. Qatar also has eight underground well field stations that are capable of extracting 10 million g/d, but these are only for emergency use.
Kahramaa is investigating four sites [to find] a storage facility with a capacity of 30 billion gallons of water
In order to ensure long-term supplies, Kahramaa has embarked on a five-point strategy for the water sector. The first step is to develop new resources; the second is to avoid any potential shortage situations; the third is to ensure water security for the whole country; the fourth is to control losses through good network management; and the final element is ensuring water quality meets high standards.
Qatar has several plans for developing water resources, including expansion of the current system, in which new power plants include thermal desalination units to utilise excess heat. It also intends to explore more modern desalination technologies, the artificial recharge of groundwater aquifers and the use of solar power to drive water production.
Artificial recharge of ground water is also known as aquifer storage and recovery. It is used extensively in other parts of the world where high-quality treated wastewater is used to recharge natural aquifers. However, given its dependence on desalination, Qatar could choose to use this to refill underground reservoirs.
Kahramaa is currently investigating four aquifers with a view to finding a storage facility with a capacity of 30 billion gallons, which would provide long-term security in the event of an interruption to desalination supplies.
The locations are all situated in the area of the northern groundwater basin.
Aquifer storage and recovery is a long-term solution. In the short-to-medium term, Qatar has other plans for increasing its storage availability. As demand for water has risen, the level of storage against daily use has fallen. As a result the country has gone from having 3.7 days of storage in 2000 to just 2.8 days today. These reserves are located at the desalination facilities attached to power plants.
Kahramaa wants to find new locations and increase its reserves to seven days of storage by 2016. It plans to achieve this through the construction of five new mega reservoirs, with a total capacity of 1,500 million gallons. Locations identified for the new facilities include Umm Birka in the north, Umm Salal, Rawdat Rashed, Abu Nakla and Al-Thumama, south of Doha.
According to regional projects tracker MEED Projects, the reservoirs will cost $2bn to construct and contracts will be awarded in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Other security initiatives include plans to diversify the locations of the desalination plants and reduce the amount of losses in the system. Consultants are currently studying the network with a view to rezoning the system and detecting leakage. This complements ongoing work to replace ageing pipes and install district and customer metering.
Kahramaa also recognises that customers have a role to play in reducing overall water demand. As part of its integrated water resource strategy, it is strengthening its demand management measures and promoting conservation awareness among residents.