MUSCAT, OCT 28 – A consortium of international consultants has been appointed to advise the Oman Power and Water Procurement Company OPWP — the sole procurer of new power generation and water desalination capacity — on the development of the Sultanate’s first large-scale solar project. Confirming the appointments to the Observer, OPWP Chief Executive Officer Eng Yaqoob al Kiyumi said the consortium comprises leading independent engineering consultancy Fichtner (for Technical Advisory Services), international investment banking and advisory services firm Synergy Consulting (for Financial Advisory Services), and global law firm DLA Piper (for Legal Advisory Services).
The trio of consultancy firms will advise state-owned OPWP — part of Nama Group — in preparing the groundwork as well as the tendering documents for the competitive process leading to the implementation of a utility-scale solar power project of a world-scale capacity of up to 500 megawatts.
The appointments underscore a new momentum in OPWP’s efforts to introduce renewable resources to Oman’s energy mix, presently dominated by natural gas as a mainstay fuel resource. Elements of a new National Energy Strategy unveiled just last week target a 10 per cent share for renewables in the nation’s total electricity supply by the year 2030. This will necessitate investments in renewables-based generation capacity — involving both solar wind power — of between 3,000 to 4,000 MW over the next 13 years.
Speaking at a forum on Solar Photovoltaic related opportunities last week, Al Kiyumi said a Request for Qualifications (RfQ) for Oman’s maiden large-scale solar project will be issued before the end of this year.
“The time is ripe for the Sultanate to deliver a utility scale solar project. The technology has improved enough to make the project bankable, and with recent developments in PV technology, we feel really confident in progressing this project,” he said.
Part of the remit of the advisory consortium is to pinpoint a suitable location for the sitting of the mega solar project. Ibri in Dhahirah Governorate, as well as Manah and Adam in Al Dakhiliyah Governorate, have been cited as offering the most ideal settings for the establishment of a large-scale solar utility.
Significantly, the Solar Project will be tendered out as an Independent Power Project (IPP), enabling OPWP to procure its capacity on the Build-Own-Operate (BOO) model that has underpinned all of the privately developed power projects currently in operation in the Sultanate.
Bidders will be invited to “meet or beat” a benchmark price per kilowatt-hour of electricity set by OPWP in order to win the license to develop the landmark project. This approach will allow for bidders to compete for the licence by offering the latest and most viable solar power generation technologies, say experts.