NEW MOMENTUM: Discussions under way with investment funds for financing of first stage of Sahim initiative –
Conrad Prabhu –
MUSCAT, OCT 23 –
Around 3000 – 5000 residential homes in Oman will be targeted in the initial stages of the planned implementation of Small-Scale Grid-Connected Solar PV Systems, according to a key official overseeing the deployment of renewable energy in the Sultanate.
Qais Saud al Zakwani (pictured), Executive Director of the Authority for Electricity Regulation Oman, said efforts are ongoing to facilitate the launch of ‘Sahim’ — a landmark initiative that pave the way for the installation of rooftop solar panels on homes and buildings to generate sustainable and clean energy.
“We are currently in the phase of defining the first block of houses, as well as the monitoring mechanisms, which will be embedded into a tender. Investment funds can then compete in the financing of this project. Hopefully, this would expedite the deployment of solar, going forward,” the official said at a forum organised by the Oman American Business Council (OABC) on Sunday.
In selecting homes as part of the initial rollout of grid-connected solar PV systems, the Authority will take into consideration a number of criteria, Al Zakwani explained. Notable factors include the contribution of buildings and homes to peak demand, the geographic deployment of these customers, their current bills, and so on. Policy guidance will also be sought from the Public Authority for Electricity and Water (Diam) on the kind of customers they wish to see covered in this phase, he said.
Significantly, interest in small-scale grid-connected solar PV systems is also anticipated from industrial and commercial customers following a significant uptick in their energy costs upon the implementation of Cost Reflective Tariffs (CRT) at the start of this year. CRT makes it more economical for industrial and commercial customers to utilise solar energy, particularly during peak periods, when current tariffs are at their highest, the official noted.
At the same time, the Authority is weighing options to incentivise the financing and enthusiastic deployment of solar power. “We are in advanced discussions with a number of funds and financing institution to commence the funding of solar installations for the first block of residential homes,” the Executive Director said, stressing that the initiative promises to deliver benefits all around.
“From the customer’s standpoint, he will benefit from his partial dependence on solar for his energy consumption. From the nation’s perspective, there will be a larger deployment of solar, which will offset the reliance on gas-based power generation. From the perspective of the funding agencies, there will be an opportunity to sell surplus energy into the grid, as we have done with other producers, which offers a reasonable return on their investment over the lifecycle of the project.”