Oman mulls utility-scale wind energy projects

As a part of the sultanate’s endeavours to reduce dependence on natural gas in power generation, Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP) is looking at exploring the potential for generating power through wind energy on a commercial scale.

According to its recently released seven-year statement, OPWP plans to re-tender for a Wind Resource Assessment (WRA) campaign this year.

‘Under the WRA, OPWP plans to install a number of wind monitoring stations at sites that provide the highest potential for development. These stations will provide data at ten-minute intervals at various heights up to 80m, to support wind project development,’ OPWP said.

An in-depth study is needed before planning a utility-scale project, as wind energy output is seasonal and intermittent during the day. The greatest output periods for Dhofar projects are expected to be in the evening and night, OPWP said.

According to OPWP, the most promising areas for onshore wind energy development are in coastal highland areas of Dhofar and Al Wusta governorates, although certain mountainous areas of Al Sharqiyah governorate also have potential for wind power.

‘OPWP plans to develop wind energy projects in tenders of 100MW-200MW, subject to market assessment and site suitability,’ OPWP said. It added that developing a utility-scale wind energy project in Al Wusta governorate will also depend on having electricity transmission access to the MIS demand area. A new 400kV transmission line from Izki to Duqm is expected to be completed in 2023.

Earlier OPWP utilised ground-measured wind data in Harweel, supplemented by satellite data, to estimate the contribution of wind projects to generation adequacy at around 35 per cent of the projects’ installed capacity.

‘This may change as the data is collected from the WRA and award of projects providing accurate configuration and yield assessments at specific sites,’ OPWP said.

Oman’s first wind farm will be operated by the Rural Area Electricity Company (RAECO) in Dhofar region under a power purchase agreement with OPWP. The 50MW project is currently under construction at Harweel in the Dhofar governorate and is expected to begin operations in 2020, the OPWP statement said.