Oman unveils 500 megawatt solar project

Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP), the Sultanate’s state-owned utility firm, on Wednesday unveiled plans to build the country’s first utility-scale solar independent power project (IPP) in Ibri with a capacity to generate 500 megawatt of electricity. This is part of a larger initiative to enhance the contribution of renewable energy in the total energy mix to 10 per cent by 2025.

Addressing the media to announce the mega renewable energy venture, Eng. Yaqoob Saif Hamood Al Kiyumi, chief executive officer of OPWP, said that the solar project would meet the electricity demand of 33,000 homes and offset 340,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year. This is one of the largest solar projects in the entire Gulf Cooperation Council region.

The estimated project cost is approximately $500 million, which will be built, owned and operated by the private sector, and the scope of the project includes financing, procurement, engineering, construction, operation and maintenance of a new power plant, which will be located at Ibri — some 300km west from Muscat.

The project will be awarded in the second half of the fourth quarter of 2018, and it will be commercially operational by early 2021.

 



A request for qualification to pre-qualify bidders will be floated tomorrow, and the plan is to award the project before the end of next year. “By the end of first quarter of 2018, we will be able to finalise the list of pre-qualified companies and issue tender documents,” added Al Kiyumi.

Like other conventional IPPs, the solar project will also be done according to the build, own and operate (BOO) model.

Although the $500 million investment for the solar project will be made by the winning company or consortium, power transmission and distribution firms such as Oman Electricity Transmission Company (OETC) will have to invest to build transmission lines to evacuate power from the plant.

Strategy of OPWP

Renewable energy has an important place in the strategy of OPWP. “It is only a beginning. There will be a project almost every year (in the future). The Financial Affairs and Energy Resources Council has approved a plan to enhance the contribution of renewable energy in the total energy mix to 10 per cent by 2025. Our aim is to achieve that target,” stressed Al Kiyumi.

A feasibility study on building renewable energy projects in Oman found that it is viable to set up such projects.

Mohammed Al Mahrouqi, chairman of Public Authority for Electricity and Water (Diam), emphasised that the government was moving forward to diversify its energy resources to drive sustainability at the economic and environmental fronts.

The development of the first large utility-scale solar PV IPP will follow the successful IPP structure established in Oman, using a transparent competition process to award the contract to a highly qualified private sector project company, delivering a world-class technology solution.

Hamdan Ali Al Hinai, chairman of OPWP, stated that “this project will be the first in the chain of renewable projects that the company is planning to develop in the coming few years to support the sustainability approach of the country.”

The demand for electricity in the country is expected to grow at the rate of 6 per cent this year. The electricity generation capacity has grown to 6,116 megawatt in 2017, from 2,314 megawatt in 2004, indicating an annual growth rate of 8.3 per cent.

Wind project

Diam has completed a wind ‘atlas’ for the Sultanate, and OPWP will use that to carry out a detailed Wind Resources Assessment (WRA). This will be carried out at the shortlisted sites. It will pave the way to develop full wind projects in those locations.

Also, OPWP in coordination with the Authority for Electricity Regulation and the Environmental Service Holding Company (Beah), intends to commence preparatory work to assess the possibility of procuring waste-to-energy projects.

It is intended to build on the considerable work undertaken by Beah with regards to waste to energy and establish a framework, including the project definition and competition process, to facilitate the implementation of such a project in the future.

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