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New solar farm linked to water project prepares for test run

Energy transition: Veolia-backed Sharqiyah Desalination Company to switch to solar for a third of its energy requirements
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A first-of-its-kind solar farm that will power an existing seawater desalination plant in operation at Sur on Oman’s South Al Sharqiyah coast is set to enter the testing phase before it brought fully online.

The 17 MW peak-capacity solar photovoltaic-based farm has been built by the renewable energy arm of French energy major TotalEnergies to help decarbonize – at least partly – the water desalination operations of Sharqiyah Desalination Company. The latter – a publicly traded firm backed by French-based global water and environmental services specialist Veolia – currently operates a modern 80,000 cubic metres/day capacity desalination project at Sur.

Philippe Paulissen, CEO - Sharqiyah Desalination Company SAOG, noted in a recent post on social media that the solar farm has passed a key commissioning step.

“Now the Solar Farm is entirely energized and producing green energy. This is one of the last stages before the trial run test leading to the Commercial Operation Date (COD. This plant is now producing 17 MW DC green energy for our Sur desalination plant,” he stated.

Covering an area of 130,000 sq metres, the solar farm features around 32,000 high-efficiency solar panels with a capacity to generate around 30,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of green electricity annually. This output will reduce the desalination project’s dependence on gas-powered electricity by around a third of its energy requirements. In the process, it will also eliminate around 300,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per annum.

Meanwhile, A'Saffa Foods SAOG, a leading producer of poultry products and foodstuff, has also announced that it has tied up with TotalEnergies for the establishment of a 7 MW-peak capacity solar PV plant to support its operations at Thamrait in Dhofar Governorate.

Sharing details about the initiative in its latest financial report, the company stated: “The Board of Directors decided to install a solar power system to reduce the cost of the fuel and power. The company has signed an agreement with TotalEnergies Renewables Orient LLC to install the solar system at the A’Saffa farm on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis. TotalEnergies has initiated the procedures to get the required approvals from the authorities,” the company added.

Following the government’s decision to introduce subsidy-free Cost Reflective Tariffs (CRT) for large consumers a couple of years ago, growing numbers of industrial and commercial establishments are investing in renewable resources to offset their sizable energy costs. This transition to renewable and sustainable energy resources is also progressively contributing to Oman’s commitment to achieving Net-Zero by 2050.

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