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    Iberdrola to expand footprint in Qatar’s innovation ecosystem

    June 7, 2023 - The Peninsula Newspaper


      Doha, Qatar: Qatar is on the right track in growth and in the light of challenges that are associated with National Vision 2030 in terms of sustainability and energy conservation. Iberdrola is focusing on expanding its footprint in the Qatari market by collaboration with local partners, Santiago Bañales (pictured), Managing Director of Iberdrola Innovation Middle East, said.

      Iberdrola, the world's second largest electric utility company, based in Spain, has been a strategic partner of

      Qatar in the last 20 years, collaborating in the construction of a knowledge-based economy and developing solutions for a sustainable future. In 2016, Iberdrola Innovation Middle East, a global digital solutions development center aiming at "defining the digital utility", was incorporated at the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP).

      Speaking to The Peninsula, Santiago Bañales said, "We established the company in 2016 following an agreement with our shareholders Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). Iberdrola Innovation Middle East was officially inaugurated in 2018 and since then, we have grown with Qatar's support for its business model, investing in renewable energy, smart grids, storage and smart solutions for our customers."

      "The next milestone is the agreement that we signed last year with the Investment Promotion Agency (IPA Qatar) to expand our activities. The main purpose of our company is to develop innovations in Qatar that are deployed worldwide. We also provide specialized technology consulting services to fellow utilities in the Middle East, in countries like Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon mainly in the design and deployment of smart grids programs," he added.

      "The big challenge in the future is energy efficiency, demand electrification and energy conservation and we expect to be working on these concepts quite a lot in the next few years. To this end, we are stepping up our investment in innovation capabilities, such as state-of-the-art office and labs, hiring top-end energy and artificial intelligence engineers and expanding our technical cooperation with Qatar's innovation ecosystem."

      Qatar has made a lot of progress as it is a 100 percent natural gas generation country. It also has one of the largest photovoltaic (PV) plants in the world. The 800MW Al Kharsaah PV power project is the first large-scale solar power plant being developed in Qatar.

      The country has been deploying smart meters and digitilising the distribution network. Also, there is a lot of work done in electricity conservation with Tarsheed programme. He pointed out that there are still opportunities to push forward energy efficiency and conservation to meet Qatar's ambitious goals. "I think there is a lot to be done in decarbonization of demand via electrification and green hydrogen, in particular in heavy industries such as ammonia production or steel manufacturing."

      Bañales reiterated "Our activity is focused on three key businesses areas which include integration of renewables, smart networks, and digital customers. We developed a large number of applications that have been applied in Iberdrola operations worldwide."

      "We have also cooperated with different energy companies in the Middle East and worked with the Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa)in the design and implementation of energy efficiency and electric vehicles programs."

      Speaking about innovation Bañales said, "We have developed over the years an extensive cooperation network with Qatar's innovation ecosystem, having ongoing agreements for training and research projects with Qatar's Universities and Technology Centers such as Qatar University, Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), Texas A&M University at Qatar and the Qatar Energy and Environmental Research Institute (QEERI). Some of these projects are or may be undertaken under programs sponsored and supported by Qatar Foundation, the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) or Qatar Research Development and Innovation Council (QRDI)."

      "Around 90 percent of our hiring has been achieved locally - graduates from QU, HBKU or other Qatar universities. There is a great talent in the country," he added.


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