Siemens – Oman urged to tap renewable energy

It’s the right time for Oman to get into the renewable energy mode. Adrian Wood, head of renewable energy, Siemens, Middle East, at a media round-table discussion on Thursday made a strong pitch for taking up renewable energy projects as early as possible to complement the other resources.

Wood said that Oman has good solar radiation, land availability and a strong desire of the government to implement renewable energy projects. He observed, "Oman government is planning to tender a PV-Concentrating Solar Power plant next April and Siemens will be very interested in the project. Likewise, if Oman decides to install a wind farm to tap wind power, Siemens would be equally interested to play its role.

"It fits nicely with Siemens’ capabilities and portfolios. Siemens is looking at medium-to-large renewable energy utility projects in Oman," he said.

It may be recalled that the Authority for Electricity RegulationAuthority for Electricity Regulation of Oman had shortlisted six renewable energy pilot projects, two for immediate implementation and four will proceed following further discussion with the developers. In 2008 the Authority published a Renewable Energy Study that confirmed the availability of solar and wind energy resources in the Sultanate.

The study made a number of recommendations for harnessing the Sultanate’s renewable resources including a recommendation that the Authority support the implementation of pilot projects.

Adrian said governments in the Mena region, including Oman, are opting for energy mix and that is where renewable energy will be implemented.

Adrian averred that population growth is driving the demand for energy and on top of every country’s agenda is the formulation of strategies to tackle and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In this context, renewable energy will play its part in addressing the issues.

With the upcoming World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi scheduled for January 2011, once again the issue of renewable energy is attracting attention to the Gulf region. The subject of renewable energy is a hot topic across the globe and the GCC is no exception, as certain countries are oil and gas rich and have typically relied on these fuels for their energy needs.

But natural resources are dwindling and governments are increasingly researching and investing in ways to generate sustainable forms of energy.

Power consumption worldwide will increase from today’s 20,300 TWh to 33,000 TWh in 2030 and the markets for renewables will grow even faster in the years ahead. The share of renewables used for generating power worldwide, excluding hydro power, is expected to grow from 3 per cent to 17 per cent in 2030.

The key factors behind this rapidly growing market are climate change, the soaring global demand for electricity, and the scarcity of fossil fuels. Among the renewables, wind and solar powers are the most important energy sources.

The Middle East countries, including Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan, are harnessing wind power to increase their renewable energy offering. Wind power costs are very attractive and close to fossil fuel costs, so for certain countries wind is the leading renewable energy source. For countries without wind, solar energy is the natural option.

Solar energy is more expensive, but every year the cost difference reduces and in the not too distant future, considering the increase in cost of oil and gas, it can be assumed there will be parity between the cost of renewable energy and that of fossil fuels.

Due to the abundance of sunlight in the region, the Middle East and North Africa has great potential for concentrated solar energy generation and a team of researches in Germany have determined that an area approximately the size of Austria (300km x 300km) with parabolic trough mirrors in the Sahara desert would be sufficient to meet the world’s power demand.

"It is the time to start now, as the market in the Middle East has the technology and is just waiting for contracts and tenders to be put in place to get things moving, Adrian adds.

Times of Oman,