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OPWP to explore energy storage options in Oman

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The Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP), the single buyer of electricity and water output in the Sultanate of Oman, says it plans to study options for energy storage development as part of the nation’s transition to a greener and sustainable future.

The move – a first in Oman’s power sector – will help support the large-scale adoption of renewable energy resources for electricity generation, as well as accelerate the decarbonization of the electricity sector, according to a key executive of the state-owned entity – a member of Nama Group.

“One area that we are trying to focus on this year and next are options for energy storage,” said Abdullah Rashid al Sawafi (pictured), Chief Operating Officer. “Our goal is to capitalize on the utilization of energy storage, and support the generation of renewable energy, as part of our commitment to achieving sustainability in this sector. To this end, we will tender out a Request for Proposals (RfP) to the market, during this year, to get their support in this area.”

Energy storage encompasses the ability to capture energy at a time of, say, surplus availability, for use later at a time when access to an energy source is either unavailable, limited in supply or intermittent. By utilizing a variety of technologies and systems, energy storage can help address a major shortcoming in the large-scale adoption of renewables, such as solar and wind resources: the intermittency factor associated with such types of resources.

Energy storage systems currently in use around the world save energy in a variety of forms – chemical, kinetic, thermal and so on – and convert them back to electricity or other useful forms. In Pumped Hydroelectric Storage, for example, the system consists of two reservoirs maintained at different heights. When there is surplus availability of electricity – for instance, solar energy during daylight – water is pumped from the lower reservoir to the higher one. At night, when solar power generation declines, water from the higher reservoir begins to flow to generate electricity.

Likewise, in thermal storage, excess heat or electricity generated during the day is used to heat up liquids or materials, such as molten salts. This heat is harnessed to run a steam turbine at night for electricity generation.

Other types of storage systems, such as Compressed Air Energy Storage, Flywheel Energy Storage, and so on, are also in use elsewhere around the world – their application depending on environmental conditions, as well as suitability to the end-user.

Of late, however, the use of Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS), based on lithium-ion or other technologies, is becoming increasingly efficient and popular, particularly in conjunction with solar, wind and other such resources.

Speaking at the Oman Sustainability Week, which was held in Muscat last week, Al Sawafi said the study will enable OPWP to evaluate the potential role of energy storage technologies in Oman’s power system. Furthermore, in addition to supporting the National Energy Transition Strategy, energy storage will also help optimize Oman’s generation portfolio, he added.

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