Second utility scale solar power project on anvil

MUSCAT, APRIL 16 –

A second utility-scale solar power project could be unveiled for development even before a formal award for Oman’s maiden solar-based Independent Power Project (IPP) — a 500MW photo-voltaic (PV) scheme planned in Ibri — is announced tentatively in the third quarter of this year, according to a high-level official.
Yaqoob Saif al Kiyumi (pictured), CEO of Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP), which oversees the procurement of all new power generation and water desalination capacity under the Sector Law, said he was hopeful that the competitive process for a second solar IPP would be launched soon. Asked if that announcement would likely happen even before the award of a contract for the keenly anticipated Ibri II Sohar IPP, he said: “Yes! We hope to have a second one in the pipeline, and a third, and a fourth, and so on.”
Speaking to the Observer, Al Kiyumi said that OPWP’s ambition to procure a succession of utility-scale solar projects was in keeping with its commitment to ensuring a sizeable contribution from renewables-based sources to Oman’s combined generation capacity.
“This is part of our roadmap — we are targeting to reach 2,500 — 3,000 megawatts by 2025,” he said. This capacity will be based almost entirely on solar PV technology, with wind resources unlikely to play a notable part (with the exception of the 50 MW wind farm currently under implementation under the auspices of the Rural Areas Electricity Company RAECO), he noted.
“Still, we are in the process of carrying out an assessment of wind resources, so we have bankable data for any wind project planned in the south of Oman,” the CEO noted.
Significantly, as many as 28 international firms, along with their local partners, have submitted their credentials in response to a Request for Qualifications (RfQ) issued by OPWP for the estimated $500 million Ibri II Sohar IPP – an outcome warmly welcomed by the state-owned procurer.
“This is a good turnout for the qualification process and strong evidence that developers have faith in Oman,” said Al Kiyumi. “Hopefully, we will announce the names of the qualified bidders before the end of this month, and issue the relevant tender in May.”
Importantly, OPWP has left it to the bidders to propose the technologies on which their bids will be based, the official pointed out. “We have left the technology choices to them because they are the experts after all. We are giving a lot of freedom to the developers, and the relevant technology providers in this regard, which I think will yield a better economic price for the country.”
According to OPWP, the bidders will be encouraged to develop the project on a sound technical basis using proven technology with high efficiency, flexibility of operation and an environmentally compliant configuration, as well as safe and reliable processes and operating procedures. A formal contract award for the Ibri II Solar IPP is expected to be announced in Q3 2018 with the Commercial Operation Date (COD) slated for early 2021.