Oman’s first ‘Green Zone’ to come up in Muscat’s Al Khuwair district

Parts of the ‘Ministries District’ in Al Khuwair in Muscat Governorate have been designated a ‘Green Zone’, serving to exemplify the Omani government’s ambitions in championing the adoption of rooftop solar PV systems, coupled with the retrofitting of government buildings to make them more energy-efficient.

The landmark initiative is being spearheaded by the Authority for Electricity Regulation (AER) Oman, which is driving both the Sahim project – centring on the installation of solar PV capacity atop residential and office buildings – and the concept of energy efficiency in buildings.  In the case of the latter, the best hope for government ministries to cut their energy costs – by as much as 30 per cent – lies in striking long-term partnerships with Energy Services Companies (ESCOs) – a business model that has proven to work successfully across the globe.

Seeking to progress both programmes, the Authority along with the Supreme Committee for Planning (SCP) initiated the establishment of Oman’s first ‘Green Zone’ last year.  It combines the ESCO model with the Sahim residential solar project “to improve building energy efficiency and installation of solar capacity in government buildings located in Muscat’s ministries district”, said the Authority in its newly published 2019 Annual Report.

“The initiative will help reduce consumption and cost of electricity, reduce reliance on conventional fuels, enable the government to align itself with international efforts and push towards a greener future,” it further noted.

Following a first-ever energy audit of a number of government buildings, the Authority launched a programme to enable government facilities to acquire the services of ESCOs.  In Phase 1 of the programme, as many as 14 government buildings have been selected for retrofits and energy conservation enhancements.  Interested ESCOs were invited to submit Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) for individual buildings as part of a competitive tender floated last August. A total of seven proposals were received from interested ESCOs.

An award however is subject to the finalisation of an Investment Grade Audit (IGA) of each government building, according to AER. “The IGA is a detailed energy audit that analyses the financial aspects of energy savings and the return on investment. Upon agreement of the IGA report submitted by the selected ESCOs, the awarded ESCOs will commit to retrofitting buildings through signing Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs) with the government entities,” the Authority explained.

Going forward, the Authority plans to conduct a site assessment study of the buildings within the ‘Green Zone’ over the course of 2020 and to hire a technical and legal advisor who will develop the project’s framework and prepare documents for tendering the buildings for energy efficiency and solar services.

To assist in the procurement and delivery of the ESCO programme, the Authority has appointed Danish Energy Management (DEM) as its Technical and Legal Advisor.