Coal-based power option still on table

MUSCAT, DEC 30 – Notwithstanding Oman’s energetic foray into renewables-based power generation, demonstrated last week by the unveiling of plans for a maiden 500 MW utility scale solar PV project, coal-based power generation is not being ruled out as an option at this stage, a senior official has stressed. Yaqoob Saif Hamood al Kiyumi (pictured), CEO of Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP), said a techno-economic feasibility study into coal based power generation, commissioned by the company, has been completed.
“Coal-based power generation is still on the table for now, but whether it will be implemented it’s a different story. Discussions on this issue are still ongoing. We have completed our study and handed it over to the authorities and their feedback is awaited,” Al Kiyumi told the Observer.
In June, Finland-based international consulting and engineering services firm Pöyry was appointed by OPWP to weigh the feasibility of establishing a first-ever coal-based Independent Power Project (IPP) in the Sultanate.
Provisional plans drawn up by OPWP envisage a coal-based plant of a capacity ranging from 1,500 to 2,500 MW.
The optimum size will be determined based on the recommendations of the techno-economic study, if indeed the introduction of coal-based power generation gets the all-important green-light from the government. The proposed scheme will be executed on a Build – Own – Operate (BOO) basis, mirroring the methodology currently in place for the execution of conventional natural gas-based power projects.
“Poyry worked on the study along with our team,” said Al Kiyumi.
Duqm is widely tipped to host the coal power project, if given the go-ahead, primarily because it has some of key enablers, including a modern port, adjoining Special Economic Zone, and ample land. But on the downside, Duqm is still not part of either the northern grid or the Dhofar System, which will prove a challenge in evacuating power from any power plant to the rest of the country.
Coal as a fuel resource is being contemplated as part of the government’s National Energy Strategy, which aims to achieve a wider energy mix beyond a dependence on natural gas, say authorities.

Conrad Prabhu