AER: Public consultation begins on solar PV guidelines in Oman

By Conrad Prabhu — MUSCAT: Jan 21 – Ahead of the planned roll-out of a regulatory framework for small-scale, grid-connected solar photovoltaic systems — a move that will pave the way for the introduction of roof-top solar capacity for the first time in the Sultanate — the Authority for Electricity Regulation Oman (AER) has kicked off a phase of public consultation aimed at garnering general feedback on proposed regulation underpinning this landmark initiative. It follows the completion of the draft of the standards that will come into play when interconnecting roof-top solar systems or other small-scale PV-based equipment to the grid. Those standards were put together on the Authority’s behalf by CESI Middle East, the regional branch of prominent European-based renewables specialist CESI.
Announcing the start of the public consultation phase, the Authority said the exercise will cover four key facets that are at the heart of a robust and effective regulatory framework for small-scale grid-connection solar PV systems.  These pertain to: (i) the draft technical standards applicable to grid-connected systems (ii) the proposed methodology for connecting PV systems to the grid (iii) interconnection guidelines, and (iv) incentives offered to private homes as well as commercial, industrial and public sector organisations investing in grid-connected solar PV systems.
Documents outlining the proposed standards and guidelines relevant to each of the four themes are being published by the Authority at certain intervals to allow for stakeholders and the general public to offer their detailed feedback.
The first to be released is a package of draft technical standards defining a common set of requirements for solar PV generating plants operating in parallel with distribution networks in low (LV) and medium (MV) voltage up to 33 kV.  It spells out the criteria for, among other things, the type of equipment that may be used for interconnecting the PV plants with a distribution network.
Additionally, it outlines measures that must be in place to prevent PV plants from causing disruptions or damage to the distribution network and to other customers linked to the same network.
A two-week timeframe concluding on February 2, 2017 has been specified for the submission of public feedback on the draft technical standards.
Earlier this month, the Authority announced that it is targeting a March-end timeframe to issue the final regulatory framework for small-scale grid-connected solar PV systems. It has also encouraged small and medium Omani businesses to register with the Distribution Code Review Panel (DCRP), a cross-sectoral committee that oversees contractor and vendor compliance with technical and safety criteria in the power sector, and capitalize on a potential windfall in business opportunities that will open up when the regulatory framework is in place.
A study commissioned by the Public Authority for Electricity and Water (PAEW) found that rooftop solar PV systems installed across the Sultanate could potentially generate around 1.4 gigawatt-hours of electricity annually.