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Oman’s power demand growth to average 3% annually through 2026: IEA

OETC is ramping up investments in grid infrastructure to support anticipated growth in renewables capacity.
OETC is ramping up investments in grid infrastructure to support anticipated growth in renewables capacity.

MUSCAT: Following an unprecedented dip in electricity consumption in 2020, attributable to the economic downturn prevailing at the time compounded further by the pandemic, power demand growth in the Sultanate of Oman continues to pick up in trend with burgeoning economic development, although below the pre-pandemic rate of 4-6% per annum.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), electricity consumption rose by around 2.5% in 2023, with the growth rate projected to average 3% over the next three years through to 2026.

The Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental agency noted in its newly published report on global power demand trends that new capacity growth in Oman will be predominantly renewables-driven.

Existing renewables-based capacity, comprising one 500 MW solar PV plant at Ibri (Ibri II Solar) and a solitary 50 MW wind farm in Dhofar, is being ramped up with the goal to achieve energy transition targets, the Agency said.

“Two additional solar photovoltaic power plants, Manah I and II, with a combined capacity of 1000 MW, are due to start operations in 2025, which would nearly triple the existing capacity from renewables. We expect renewables to reach nearly 8% of the generation mix in 2026, while gas-fired electricity falls from 93% currently to 88%,” it further stated.

The IEA report also referenced efforts by Oman Electricity Transmission Company (OETC), the owner and operator of the country’s north and south standalone grids, to integrate them into one interconnected national system – an initiative known as ‘Rabt’.

Also notable, it said, is OETC’s strategy to install a subsea cable to provide Masirah Island with cost-competitive power from the national grid. The move also will reduce the island’s dependency on diesel-fired power generation, it stated.

Turning to trends in the wider Middle East, the report pointed out that demand growth in the region had increased by 2% in 2023, which was two-thirds down from the 3.3% growth witnessed in 2022. It attributed the dip to “weaker economic activity and despite higher temperatures boosting cooling”.

“For the 2024-2026 outlook period, we forecast stronger growth of an average 3%, led higher by economic growth. Fossil fuel’s share in electricity generation is expected to decline from 93% in 2023 to 90% by 2026. In parallel, the share of low-emissions sources rises from 7% to 10%. Nuclear power generation increased by 50% in 2023 versus 2022, and is forecast to rise by 29% in 2024 and 14% in 2025, before plateauing in 2026. At the same time, renewable generation rose by about 20% in 2023, and is set to increase by a similar 23% in 2024 before easing to 11% on average in 2025-2026,” it added.

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