Wind energy in Oman: Potential for development of wind power in Thamrait

Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP), which is mandated under the sector law to procure all new electricity generation and related water desalination capacity, is exploring the potential for wind farm development in Dhofar Governorate.

A preliminary study of options for the expansion of power generation capacity has identified wind energy development as potentially prospective. The OPWP study confirms the earlier findings of the Authority for Electricity Regulation — Oman which had commissioned a landmark evaluation of renewable energy opportunities in the Sultanate.

Prospects for wind energy development are outlined in OPWP’s latest 7-Year outlook for power generation and desalinated water supply in the Sultanate, covering the 2012-2018 timeframe. The state-owned power offtaker’s study identified wind farms in the Thamrait area of Dhofar Governorate as a potential resource option for consideration.

A screening study was based on the potential for a 20 megawatt (MW) wind farm. It mooted a more detailed analysis of this option. While acknowledging that wind energy development would likely require a subsidy, the study stressed however that any eventual wind farm project would progress the government’s initiatives to encourage renewable energy development. “OPWP plans to explore this further, which may lead to procurement within the next seven years,” the offtaker added in its Outlook Statement.

Importantly, moves towards renewable energy development to augment generation capacity in the Salalah System, will not preclude plans for a second Independent (Water) Power Project in Dhofar Governorate.

OPWP says it has commenced studies aimed at selecting a suitable site for the second I(W)PP with an optimal capacity ranging from 200 – 400 MW. The site selection study will determine whether desalination capacity should be combined with the power plant, or to develop it as a stand-alone, water-only plant, the offtaker said. A tender for the procurement of the project is proposed to be floated this year, with plant completion targeted for 2016.

Significantly, any sharp increase in electricity demand would likely necessitate a third Independent Power Project (IPP) in Salalah, according to the offtaker. “OPWP plans to monitor closely the development of industrial demand in Salalah. If demand tracks the “high case” scenario, then temporary generation may be required in 2015, and a third Salalah Independent Power Project (IPP) may be required by 2018,” it said.

Salalah’s first Independent Water and Power Project (IWPP), developed by a consortium led by Singapore-based Sembcorp, is being brought into operation in a phased manner at Taqah. Around 61 MW of capacity, representing Phase 1 of the 445 MW capacity scheme, was brought on stream last July. Another 173 MW of capacity was completed in January this year, while the remaining 211 MW of capacity is slated to be commissioned sometime this month.

The project company also plans to bring into production its 15 million imperial gallons per day (MIGD) capacity desalination plant starting in May this year.

Peak power demand in the Salalah System is projected to grow by 10 per cent annually from 348 MW in 2011 to 690 MW in 2018, says OPWP. In the low-case scenario, demand growth is expected to be sustained at 7 per cent, reaching 571 MW by 2018. But the high-case scenario considers more rapid industrialization in Salalah, with peak demand projected to jump 17 per cent annually to 1041 MW in 2018.

Water demand in Salalah is projected to grow at the rate of 6 per cent annually, with peak demand expected to increase from 62,000 m3/day in 2011 to 95,000 m3/day in 2018. The bulk of this demand will be met by the Salalah IWPP, which will yield 68,190 m3/day (15 MIGD) starting from 2012. An additional desalination plant is expected to be procured for commissioning by 2016, while groundwater resources could be tapped to help meet short-term supply shortfalls, according to the offtaker.