MUSCAT, MAY 19 – Marking a new phase in the mass-scale installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems atop residential buildings in the Sultanate, the Authority for Electricity Regulation Oman (AER) has invited Expressions from Interest (EoI) from qualified developers eager to participate in this landmark scheme, dubbed Sahim-2. It represents the second phase of an ambitious programme being spearheaded by the Authority that will see up to 30 per cent of residential homes in the Sultanate fitted out with rooftop-based solar PV systems. In contrast, Sahim-1, which is currently under implementation, allows larger households as well as businesses that install rooftop PV systems at their own cost, to be compensated for any electricity output exported into the grid.
Interested developers have until June 6, 2018 to register their interest in participating in the Phase 2 package of the Sahim programme. They are required to furnish, among other things, “the indicative cost of providing and operating an integrated system of automated risk management with the following non-exhaustive list of capabilities: information storage and retrieval, remote metering and monitoring of multiple rooftop PV systems, weather corrected performance evaluations, performance reports of sufficient quality to support invoicing and contract payments, high-level storage redundancy and data security, and other requirements stipulated by the Authority relevant to the life cycle management of privately financed rooftop PV system assets”, the Authority said.
Envisaged under Sahim-2 is the large-scale deployment of small PV systems of capacities ranging from 3-5 kilowattpeak (kWp) covering between 10-30 per cent of residential premises in the Sultanate. Unlike PV systems covered in Sahim-1, the costs of procuring, installing, operating and maintaining residential systems under Sahim-2 will not be borne by the customers, but rather the developers who will recoup their costs through contracts with the licensed power suppliers.
Importantly, the EoI calls for the appointment of a corporate entity as an ‘Agent’ of the Authority with responsibility for procuring, funding, installing, commissioning, operating and maintaining the Integrated System for Sahim-2 for period of not less than 20 years.
As part of its mandate, the Agent will put together an Integrated System for the facilitation of a series of tasks covering the installation and operation of individual PV systems. For example, upon the award of contracts to successful bidders, the Agent will compile and maintain a register of awarded contracts including: participating premises, number and types of PV systems, configurations of PV systems to be installed at each premise, details of PV System Providers and contractors responsible for PV System installations at specified premises and subsequent O&M.
Likewise, during the installation phase, the Agent will be required to monitor and register all required approvals and consents — the Municipality, for example. It must ensure that only approved and correct components are installed at stipulated premises and maintain a database including photographic records of installed components at each premise.
Furthermore, the Agent is tasked with monitoring commissioning tests of all PV systems to confirm, among other things, the complete installation of specified PV systems; compliance with approved design and components; that PV system output accords with manufacturer design specifications given actual local weather conditions at time of commissioning; confirm satisfactory completion of commissioning tests or indicate why commissioning failed and actions required to retest.
“Confirmation that commissioning tests have been successfully completed is a condition precedent for the commencement of contract payments by Licensed Suppliers to PV System providers,” the Authority noted.
Explaining the methodology for the financing of the Sahim-2 phase, as well as the respective roles of the PV System Providers and the Agent, the Authority said: “Private entities (PV System Providers) will compete to fund, procure, install, own, operate and maintain qualifying PV systems at residential premises designated by the Authority — procurement, installation and PV system operation will be closely supervised by the Authority’s Agent. The performance of all qualifying PV systems will be independently monitored over their operational lives.”
The Authority further added: “Licensed suppliers will enter long term performance based contracts with PV System Providers to remunerate investment costs (including investment returns) and the costs of installing, commissioning, operating and maintaining qualifying PV systems. The Authority’s Agent will provide performance data to support these transactions.”
‘Sahim’, which means “contribute” in Arabic, was part of a series of renewable energy based initiatives spearheaded by the Authority to promote the exploitation of Oman’s limitless solar resources for electricity generation. Part of the objective is to alleviate the nation’s dependence on natural gas-based power generation, and divert any gas resources saved in the process towards investments that support economic diversification and employment creation.