MUSCAT, JULY 14 – Having pioneered renewable energy development in remote corners of the Sultanate, the wholly government owned Rural Areas Electricity Company (RAECO) is moving forward with an ambitious plan to establish small-scale hybrid renewables based power projects at key locations across its vast and geographically distributed licence area. In all, 11 sites have been identified for the development of hybrid-renewables based power plants, which will be developed and operated by the private sector as Independent Power Projects (IPPs), according to RAECO, a wholly owned subsidiary of Nama Group (previously The Electricity Holding Company).
Last week, RAECO (recently rebranded as Tanweer), invited local and international consultants to bid for a contract for the provision of Financial, Commercial and Legal Consultancy Services linked to this landmark initiative. Interested bidders have until August 7, 2018 to submit their offers.
The initiative, first unveiled by RAECO last year, envisions the hydridisation of 11 existing small-scale diesel powered plants distributed across its sprawling jurisdiction. Almost all of RAECO’s electricity output comes from diesel-based generation — a trend that the company is looking to change to either 100 per cent renewables based small-scale capacity or a combination of solar photovoltaic and conventional diesel-power hybrids.
RAECO’s remit covers all of the areas of the Sultanate that fall outside of the nation’s two main grids — the Main Interconnected System (MIS), covering much of the northern half of Oman, and the Dhofar Power System (DPS), which supplies electricity to much of Dhofar Governorate. Its footprint includes large swathes of Musandam and Wusta governorates, as well as parts of Dhofar Governorate.
Speaking earlier to the Observer, Saleh Nasser al Rumhi, CEO of RAECO, explained: “Our goal is to convert these plants into hybrid models offering at least partial solar PV capacity. Towards this end, we have tendered for a consultant to study the overall feasibility, technical elements, and other legal and regulatory aspects of this initiative.
The consultant will also make recommendations on the percentage of the capacity to be converted, type of technology that can be tapped, the partnership model on which private players can be invited to invest in the venture, and so on. We believe there is potential to replace 15, 20 or even 25 per cent of the existing diesel-based capacity with renewable based resources.”
RAECO says its pursuit of renewables is inspired by the success of its maiden hybrid project — a 307kW Solar PV plant that came into operation at Al Mazyunah in Dhofar Governorate in 2015.
The facility, operated by Bahwan Astonfield Solar Energy Company, was built with an investment of around $1 million. As many as 1,617 solar panels have been installed on an 8,000 square metre area, generating enough power to meet around 60 per cent of demand in Al Mazyunah in winter. This will lead to savings of around 155,000 litres of diesel as fuel per annual, thereby also contributing to around 433 tonnes in carbon emission savings per year.
The company has also since embarked on the development of a commercial-scale 50MW wind farm project at Harweel in Thamrait in collaboration with Masdar of the United Arab Emirates.