Solar PV for first 1000 homes in Oman

Muscat: The process of rolling out small-scale PV systems on the rooftops of residential buildings in the Sultanate has now entered a key phase in its execution, according to the Authority for Electricity Regulation (AER) Oman.

The sector regulator is overseeing the implementation of the landmark project – dubbed Sahim-II. On Thursday, it announced that an initial batch of 1000 applicants – who own residential homes in Muscat Governorate – have cleared the approvals process and will shortly be sent formal proposals for the installation of grid-connected solar PV systems atop their buildings.

“We are pleased to announce to those interested in the Sahim initiative the approval of installations of solar panels (atop the roofs of) more than 1000 homes.  Initial offers are being sent to the accepted participants in the first phase,” the Authority said in a tweet.

An estimated 3,000 homes and residential buildings are being targeted for coverage in the first phase of the Sahim II program in Muscat Governorate.  Under plans drawn up by the Authority, the task of funding, installing, operating, and maintaining the grid-connected rooftop PV systems will be awarded to one or more successful developers in a series of competitive tenders.  Muscat Electricity Distribution Company (MEDC), as the local distribution and supply company, is expected to enter into long-term agreements with the successful developers in their concessional areas.

A mobile app launched by the Authority last May garnered strong interest from homeowners in the capital region who signed up to be part of this national endeavour to ease the Sultanate’s dependence on gas-powered electricity generation. The transition to solar power will not only free up significant quantities of natural gas for use as fuel and feedstock in productive economic activities, but also contribute to dramatic savings in the monthly electricity bills of homeowners.

While the lion’s share of the funding for the installation and maintenance of the rooftop PV system – ranging in capacity from 3 – 5 kilowatt-hours (kwH) – will come from the developer, participating homeowners are expected to chip in a modest amount every year for the first four years (or thereabouts) of their long-term agreement with developer.  After the lock-in period, customers typically enjoy significantly reduced electricity bills or effectively zero costs. Any surplus solar generation will be fed back into the grid, for which the developer is entitled to be compensated by MCDC

AER’s target is to cover between 10 – 30 per cent of residential homes in the Sultanate with its Sahim-II programme over the long term.