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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Renewables, economic diversification to drive Oman’s low carbon economy strategy
UN Climate Change Conference (COP26): Oct 31–Nov 12, 2021
Pillar 1 Energy Transition wind energy solar panels dreamstime
Pillar 1 Energy Transition wind energy solar panels dreamstime

A large-scale renewable energy development programme, combined with the Sultanate’s aggressive push to grow its non-oil economy, will go a long way in helping the country’s meet its commitments to the Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation, a key report has stressed.


The 2nd Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) report – setting out Oman’s pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming – outlines pathways charted by key sectors, such as Oil & Gas, transportation, and so on, to narrow their respective emissions contributions.


The latest NDC update, compiled on the country’s behalf by the Civil Aviation Authority (Directorate-General of Meteorology), commits the Sultanate to whittling down GHG emissions by 7 per cent in 2030 compared to the Business-As-Usual (BAU) scenario.


Significantly, government strategies in support of economic diversification will play a key role in slashing Oman’s carbon footprint – a goal also enshrined in the 2040 Vision, says the Civil Aviation Authority’s report.


“According to the 2040 Vision, the strategic economic direction is toward a diverse and sustainable economy anchored on technology, knowledge, and innovation that operates within integrated frameworks, ensures competitiveness, embraces industrial revolutions, and achieves fiscal sustainability. The Omani economy is heading for the next 20 years to expand the production and export base, diversify trading partners, deepen investment in high value-added sectors, and enhance non-oil sectors' contribution to the GDP,” it noted.


With economic diversification, the share of the hydrocarbon sector is projected to decline from 39 per cent of GDP in 2017 to 16 per cent in 2030, slumping further to 8.4 per cent by 2040. The share of the non-oil sector, on the other hand, is expected to climb to eventually hit 91.6 per cent by 2040.


Thus, while the shift to a predominantly non-oil economy will inevitably bring down GHG emissions, the increasing penetration of renewable energy will also help accelerate this downward trajectory, says the NDC update. Energy from solar and wind resources will account for 20 per cent of the energy mix in 2030, rising to 35 – 39 per cent in 2040.


“The Government Carbon Control Target Plan is rooted in the Oman Vision 2040 and the National Energy Strategy to support a gradual transition to a low carbon economy and an energy matrix significantly lower in carbon emission by 2030. The massive deployment of renewable energy and the deepening of energy efficiency actions are the pillars of the 2030 carbon control plan in the Sultanate,” the report noted.


The government’s renewable energy strategy envisions the procurement of at least 2,660 megawatts (MW) of solar PV (79 per cent) and wind (21 per cent) based capacity over the 2021 – 2027 timeframe.


Substantial improvements in the energy efficiency of gas-fired power projects – which rose to as much as 55 per cent last year – also contributed significantly to decarbonisation goals.


Not factored into the NDC pledges is the potentially game-changing role that green hydrogen – billed as the energy of the future -- will play in fueling Oman’s transition to a green economy.


With at least three world-scale schemes planned for implementation in the Sultanate over the next several years, their contribution to the decarbonisation of the Omani economy is expected to be immense.


All of these key developments will reflect well on the Sultanate when the country takes part in the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) due to be held in Scotland (UK) during October 31 to November 12, 2021.


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