The Rural Areas Electricity Company (RAECO), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Nama Group (formerly The Electricity Holding Company), has unveiled a new Five-Year Business Plan that seeks to put the accent on, among other things, small-scale renewable energy schemes as well as enhanced coverage in areas falling within its jurisdiction.
The new Business Plan, covering the 2017-2021 timeframe, has been developed keeping in view the strong growth witnessed by the state-owned utility over the past year, RAECO stated in its newly released 2016 Annual Report. Electricity generation rose nine per cent to 939 gigawatt-hours (GWh) last year, up from 863 GWh a year earlier, while water desalination output soared a hefty 22 per cent to 3.4 million cubic metres, up from 2.8 million cubic metres in 2015.
“(RAECO) has prepared its five-year business plan (2017-2021), which includes a major initiative for inter-linking some areas in Dhofar Governorate pursuant to Article (88) of the sector law,” said Faisal Khamis al Hashar, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “In addition, a plan for implementing renewable energy projects has been prepared and studies are under way to consider the best options for implementation of around 26MWp of photovoltaic capacity at RAEC existing power plants,” he added in the Chairman’s Report.
Although one of the smallest of the Nama Group’s distribution and supply utilities in terms of customer accounts, RAECO’s jurisdiction covers more than 75 per cent of the land mass of the Sultanate. The company serves areas that fall outside of the nation’s two main grids —the Main Interconnected System (MIS), covering much of the northern half of Oman, and Dhofar Power System (DPS), serving Dhofar Governorate.
As of 2016-end, RAECO had 36 diesel-fuel power plants in operation across its expansive authorised area, offering a total of 270 MW of generation capacity. The company also operates six desalination plants (including three that are combined with power generation), which supply bulk desalinated water to the Public Authority for Electricity and Water (PAEW).
Significantly, renewables development will be a key thrust area for the utility, going forward. “As part of RAECO’s efforts to reduce its operating costs for supplying electricity to rural areas, we have undertaken detailed investigation and studies into the possibility of using renewable Energy,” the company said.
“In 2016 a Renewable Energy plan was formulated which identified 11 sites where existing diesel power stations could be augmented with photo-voltaic capacity to meet at least the minimum demand of the site. These sites will form part of a tendering process to establish investment projects using the most economic framework, including the option of power purchase agreements with independent power producers with renewables experience. The anticipated capacity for the 11 ‘hybrid’ sites is approximately 26MW peak.”