The Sultanate’s renewable energy industry is set to get further boost with seven more solar power projects being planned in the country. “The tender process for three of the projects will start at the end of the final quarter of this year”, said Hamad bin Salim Al Maghdari, CEO of the Rural Areas Electricity Company (RAEC). He was talking to reporters while announcing the launch of commercial operation of Oman’s first solar project in the Wilayat of Al Mazyona in Dhofar governorate.
Built at a cost of about $1 million and implemented by Bahwan Astonfield Solar Energy Company with a daily production capacity of 1667 kW per hour, the project will become commercially operational in September this year.
Al Maghdari said that through a study conducted by RAEC, it has been found that if electricity is produced from solar energy in any area of the Sultanate, only seven hours are allocated for this kind of energy per day.
“This will be enough to restore the value of what has been spent on the installation of solar power plant in 4.5 years”, he said adding, “it is high time for implementation solar projects in order to relieve the government of subsidy burden on the state budget”.
Al Maghdari said that the participation of the private sector will be sought for investment in the projects.
He said that the findings of the study prove that the 250 to 300 kW produced from the solar panels located in the Sultanate are equivalent in efficiency to a capacity of 1000 kW in Europe. “This indicates that the enormous amount of sunlight falling on the territory of the Sultanate qualifies it to produces solar energy using a number of panels less than that is used by other regions or countries”, he said.
To a question on government’s support for the production of electricity using fossil fuels, he said that the cost of electricity production is 89 baisas per kilowatt/hour until it reaches the subscriber’s house.
“To make it convenient for the subscribers, the government identified segments for the sale of electricity. The first segment is from zero to 3,000 kW/h, and the cost is estimated at ten baisas per kilowatt”, he said.
For example, he elaborated, if one house consumes 2000 kW/h in a month, the consumption cost will be RO 20, with the subsidised price, while the real cost in case of removal of the subsidy would be RO 178, which means that the government support for each participant is RO 158.
“The company will put these details in the monthly bills, as the bill will include the real cost and the government-subsidised cost”, he said.
These are promising results because the dry weather conditions help and encourage the establishment of these technical stations unlike moisture that affects solar panels.
According to Al Maghdari, RAEC produces electricity using diesel fuel which is of high cost in spite of the support by the government.
“This has led to the search for sources of sustainable energy such as solar and wind power, as the solar energy is available in the Sultanate with very high density because the Sultanate is located in the higher-radiation sunbelt”, he said.
“Production of solar panels depends on the weather and climatic conditions. This experiment demonstrated suitability for temperature and freedom from dust, sand and small volatile stones which limit panels’ reception of solar energy”, he said.