Muscat: Sultan Qaoos University (SQU) – the Sultanate’s preeminent higher learning institution – is implementing a string of projects and initiatives designed to achieve a minimum 40 per cent share from renewable energy sources towards its overall electricity needs.
According to the Director of the Sustainable Energy Research Centre at SQU, the projects will tap a variety of renewable energy sources, including solar and biogas, and are broadly aimed at supporting the university’s ambition to become a ‘Zero Emission Campus’ – a first of its kind initiative in the Sultanate.
Dr Amer al Hinai said: “SQU has launched the ‘Zero Emission Campus’ initiative as part of its efforts to become a centre of expertise in sustainability studies in the areas of renewable energy and energy conservation, water agriculture, technology and management.”
The scientist made the comments in a presentation to an energy forum held in the city recently. Offering his perspective on renewable energy development in the Sultanate, he said SQU is collaborating on the ‘Zero Emission Campus’ objective with the Institute of for Applied Material Flow Management at the Environmental Campus Birkenfeld in Germany.
As part of its goal to evolve into a ‘Green Campus’, SQU has plans to install 5.5 MW of rooftop PV capacity and an additional 14 MW of car park PV capacity. A biogas plant being developed on campus in collaboration with be’ah – the Sultanate’s solid waste management utility – will generate 2 MW of capacity annually based on the Waste-to-Energy generation model.
Both sets of ventures will account for roughly 40 per cent of SQU’s electricity requirements, Dr Al Hinai said.
Furthermore, in line with the University’s goal to embrace Circular Economy principles, SQU is developing the country’s first Reuse Centre in collaboration with be’ah. The unique facility will collect used goods, notably old furniture, clothes items and toys, and repurpose them in a suitably equipped workshop and return them back in circulation.
Set up in 2017 with the goal to support research in renewable energy, the Centre has received funding of $2.7 million from Occidental of Oman. With this funding support, the Centre has developed a hybrid renewable energy system in cooperation with Nafath Renewable Energy, a local Omani firm. It is also supporting the training of professionals in the design and installation of solar PV systems, he added.
SQU’s 6 sq km campus houses an estimated 18,000 students, 6000 employees and 800 support staff, as well as SQU Hospital.