Oman puts maiden Waste-to-Energy project on hold

Plans for the procurement of Oman’s first utility-scale Waste-to-Energy (WTE) project have been “suspended”, a top official said, citing flagging electricity demand and the wider economic downturn.

Yaqoob Saif al Kiyumi (pictured), CEO – Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP), the sole procurer of new power and water capacity, stated: “With the slowdown in demand and other economic challenges, the Waste to Energy project has been put on hold – it has been suspended – and will be reviewed annually from the economic and demand points of view.”

The official made the announcement during the annual press conference organised by Nama Group on Monday.  The landmark project was proposed to be implemented at Barka in partnership with Oman Environmental Services Holding Company (be’ah), the provider of processed municipal waste as feedstock.

Plans drawn up by OPWP envisaged a plant of capacity ranging from 120 – 160 MW. Officials had earlier confirmed that a final green-light for the procurement of Oman’s maiden waste-to-energy plant had been received from the Ministry of Finance, as well as the Authority for Electricity Regulation (AER) Oman.

At the media briefing, Al Kiyumi acknowledged that the pandemic and the economic downturn were having an impact on electricity demand in the Sultanate, as has also been the case globally.

Describing 2020 as an “exceptional year”, he said that power demand has fallen significantly in January this year, the weather being among the factors. However, in February, the demand was up almost five per cent versus the corresponding figures for last year. But as the pandemic began to spread, consumption fell around five per cent in March and April. It picked up slightly (0.5 per cent) in May and is expected to remain in positive territory as people return to work, commercial activities reopen and businesses return to normal, the CEO noted.

On the other hand, the outlook for solar and wind-based renewable energy projects remains positive, according to the official.  Efforts are ongoing to gather data on wind resources necessary for the procurement of wind-based projects proposed in the southwest of the Sultanate.

“We will continue to analyse data for wind resources in Jaalan (South Al Sharqiyah Governorate) and for a CSP (Concentrated Solar Thermal Power scheme) in Duqm.  Of course, at the moment, we are also gathering the necessary data, and not promising a project as such. But if the demand is supported by data and good economics, then (we will progress these plans).”