Oman’s first utility-scale solar power project now online

The Sultanate has officially brought into commercial operation its first utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) scheme – a 105 MWac capacity Independent Power Project (IPP) located at Amin in the south of the Block 6 license of Petroleum Development Oman (PDO).

Amin Renewable Energy Company (AREC), representing a consortium led by the Japanese-based international conglomerate Marubeni Corporation, built the facility under a long-term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) signed with PDO.  Featuring 336,000 solar PV panels, output from the sprawling solar farm is earmarked exclusively for use by PDO in powering its Interior operations.

An official of the majority-government owned Oil and Gas company revealed in an interview to a local news portal that the Amin solar farm came on stream earlier this week after several weeks of performance testing and commissioning.   It follows the award of a generation license (renewable energy) by the Authority for Electricity Regulation (AER) Oman to the developer, Amin Renewable Energy Company (AREC), in January this year.

In April, Amin Solar exported more than three million units of commissioning energy to PDO’s grid, “achieving the target by fair margin”, AREC said in a recent post on LinkedIn.

AREC is a partnership of Marubeni Corporation, Oman Gas Company SAOC, Bahwan Renewable Energy Company, and Nebras.  In January 2019, Muscat-based AREC had been awarded the contract to “develop, finance, build, operate and maintain” what is billed as the world’s first utility-scale solar project with an oil and gas company as the offtaker of its electricity output.

According to PDO, the project has secured carbon credit registration within the European Union.  At full capacity, clean energy from the plant will help offset more than 225,000 tons per year of CO2 emissions – the equivalent of taking some 23,000 vehicles off the road, it noted.

Significantly, Amin Solar joins a growing portfolio of renewables and other clean energy based initiatives embraced by PDO as part of its long-term commitment to reducing its carbon footprint. The project also aligns with the company’s broader vision to evolve into a full-fledged energy development organisation with a remit that transcends its current focus on hydrocarbon based resources and encompasses a variety of low-carbon opportunities.

PDO is a global pioneer in the use of solar energy to generate steam necessary for its Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) operations. To this end, PDO is overseeing the implementation of a 1-gigawatt Miraah project that harnesses solar energy to produce heavy oil from the Amal oilfield instead of natural gas for steam generation.

Furthermore, PDO is exploring avenues for investment in solar and wind resources for power generation and water desalination, power to ‘X’, solar to hydrogen, and other opportunities. The company has also expressed an interest in bidding for large-scale solar power schemes procured by state-run Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP).