Solar power systems are being installed on the rooftops of as many as 22 schools run by the Ministry of Education around the Sultanate, underscoring multi-sectoral efforts to promote the uptake of renewables in Oman. Seen in conjunction with recent efforts by Oman’s electricity authorities to kickstart renewable energy development, as well as support smart metering and related initiatives, the latest move augurs well for the Sultanate’s ambitions to embrace renewables for its energy requirements by the year 2050, according to a Muscat-based industry executive.
Flemming Christensen (pictured), who heads the Oman operations of CESI Middle East — a leading technical consulting and engineering services provider, said his company is overseeing the delivery of a solar based rooftop programme for the Ministry of Education.
“CESI has recently assisted the Authority for Electricity Regulation (AER) in developing standards and the policy framework for a solar roof top programme, and are currently supervising a solar installation programme of 2 MW at 22 schools for the Ministry of Education, enabling the vision of renewable power generation to be included in the educational programmes,” Christensen stated.
In an interview to the Observer, conducted against the backdrop of last week’s Musharaka 2017 Forum organized by Nama Group (The Electricity Holding Company), the industry expert said the Sultanate was ideally poised to embrace renewables on a major scale.
“There are great opportunities for Oman to capitalise on the natural resources from both the sun and the unique wind power potential in the Dhofar region,” he said. “The market price of utility scale solar power generation is now lower than the current spot market price for gas, from recent published tendered contracts. The cost of electricity from wind turbines is also declining, allowing for Oman to consider the bold vision of a fully renewable power generation system by 2050. The adaptation of increasing levels of uncertain power generation away from traditional gas fired power generation is a significant challenge for the electricity sector.”
A division of Italian based Centro Elettrotecnico Sperimentale Italiano (CESI), CESI Middle East has been playing a pivotal role in supporting the power sector’s modernization. It has assisted the sector in the formulation of policies, the framework and the methodologies in the roll-out of the Automated Meter Reading (AMR) system for High Value Customers as part of the new Cost Reflective Tariff scheme introduced earlier this year.
Smart grid: “We have expanded from this earlier work and are now leading the common sector wide AMR implementation for Nama Group, ensuring both the immediate goals for the provision of billing data to the Distribution Companies are met, whilst having the preparations for the longer term objectives in sight,” said Christensen.
“The AMR platform and the business services we are preparing for use in the electricity sector will serve as stepping stones for the inclusion of distributed renewable power generation and underpin the development of Smart Grid support in Oman.”
Supporting capacity building and knowhow transfer is also a key part of the company’s vision, according to the executive. CESI is engaged with capacity building in the five distribution companies involved in the AMR programme for the CRT customer segment at this time.
“We have developed rigorous training plans and identified the key staff members at the Distribution Companies whom will be the bearers of the new AMR platform, with a train the trainer approach. A tailored remotely accessible training program allowing the complexity of the new high tech electricity meters to be learned over an eight-week period and finally examined is starting this week. Capacity building is a key component for a successful project outcome,” he added.