RENEWABLES: OPWP and PAEW join forces to explore potential for wind projects –
Conrad Prabhu –
MUSCAT, MAY 21 –
Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP), the sole procurer of new electricity generation and water desalination capacity, has announced the formation of a joint task force with the Public Authority for Electricity and Water (PAEW) to support the development of wind-based power projects in the Sultanate.
The move, announced in OPWP’s 7-Year Outlook Statement issued here on Sunday, promises to impart stronger impetus to the government’s strategy for harnessing renewable energy resources for power generation.
“PAEW’s 2016 Wind Atlas Report identified several locations for prospective wind plants, and OPWP plans to develop wind instrumentation stations to support future power development,” the state-owned procurer — part of Nama Group — stated in the Outlook Statement, spanning the 2017-2023 timeframe.
Oman’s maiden commercial-scale wind-based power generation project, a 50 MW capacity wind farm planned at Harweel in Dhofar Governorate, is still awaiting a decision by its developers for the award of a contract.
The wind farm is being developed as a joint venture between the Rural Areas Electricity Company (RAECO), a subsidiary of Nama Group, and Masdar, a UAE-based renewable energy development agency. Output from the project is proposed to be supplied to OPWP under a power purchase agreement (PPA).
OPWP has identified Dhofar Governorate as particularly promising for wind-based energy generation — a potential that can be further harnessed upon the roll-out of a national renewable energy policy in the near future. Further wind project development is a prospect from 2020 onwards, it said.
Efforts to develop renewable and alternative energy sources for electricity generation are expected to make further headway in light of the government’s advisory to the OPWP that natural gas supply commitments linked to future projects are uncertain.
The procurer explained: “The availability of domestic gas for future power plants is uncertain in the context of competing gas needs for economic development. OPWP is developing plans in 2017 for a more rapid transition to power supply from solar plants, wind farms, and coal-fired generation, to support government decision-making for the next generation of power capacity development. OPWP will continue to coordinate closely with all relevant entities and authorities in order to ensure a sustainable and secure supply of energy.”
According to the utility, the Ministry of Oil & Gas (MOG) recently approved gas allocations for the next two power projects lined up for procurement.
However, future natural gas supply is “constrained”, it warned. In the circumstances, it said it would explore the potential procurement of new projects based on fuels other than natural gas, such as renewable energy and coal. Another option would be to study the feasibility of importing natural gas for power generation and water desalination, OPWP added.