Strong potential for solar-based manufacturing sector

By Conrad Prabhu — MUSCAT: Dec 3: Calls by Tanfeedh — the National Programme for Enhancing Economic Diversification — for the vigorous adoption of renewable and alternative energy sources bode well for the growth of a robust solar-based manufacturing sector in the Sultanate, according to the head of a key industry grouping in Oman. Haider al Zaabi, Country Manager — Oman Solar Industry Association (OSIA), strongly welcomed Tanfeedh’s advocacy of a significant renewables-based component in the Sultanate’s overall power generation mix.

In proposals unveiled at the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre last week, Tanfeedh championed a revamped energy policy that envisions one-tenth of the nation’s electricity needs coming from renewable energy sources by 2025.  This includes generating at least 2,500 MW of solar power and 500 MW of wind power by 2025, it stressed. Hailing the target set by Tanfeedh for solar based renewable energy, Al Zaabi said: “This is very achievable if you take into account current solar power technologies and solutions available in the world. Oman is a brilliant destination for large scale solar projects, as our weather status has shown good solar radiation for photovoltaic (PV) solutions, and it is also very predictable throughout the period of operation especially in our vast desert areas, which makes it a very reliable and dependable source of energy.”

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Haider al Zaabi

The advantages accruing to the Sultanate from solar-based renewables will be outlined by Haider in a presentation due to be made at the INTEX Oman Forum, which opens at the Oman Convention & Exhibition Center tomorrow, December 5. The 3-day event has been organised by Global Exhibition & Conferences LLC (GEC) with the support of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Al Zaabi foresees a promising solar-based manufacturing sector taking root in the Sultanate on the heels of the growth of renewable energy development.   This industry, he points out, has the potential to serve not only Oman, but the wider Gulf region.

“Solar based manufacturing capacity can vary according to the technologies used, which creates huge potential and opportunity to push the development of solar based products to support the implementation of the industry.
According to various workshops conducted on this issue, some of the raw materials can be extracted and sourced locally from Oman, which gives us a huge advantage in terms of cost-competitiveness and efficiency.”
Solar-based ingredients and components that can be manufactured locally include silicon, PV material, batteries, electrical materials and cables — the intermediate materials for many of which are already produced in the Sultanate, according to the industry expert.

Furthermore, with the implementation of In-Country Value (ICV) development in this nascent industry, solar-based manufacturing will benefit from cost reduction, which will further support the viability of solar based manufacturing in Oman.
Oman Solar Industry Association (OSIA), says Al Zaabi, is committed to playing a pivotal role in driving the development of a vibrant solar-based renewable energy sector in the Sultanate. Established just over two years ago, the non-for-profit, non-government organisation has been working to “empower solar development” in Oman.
“In association with the Solar GCC Alliance, we are proud to be supporting the gathering of the national and regional solar industry in Oman. Our goal is to transform Oman and the Middle East’s vast solar potential into a commercially and environmentally viable solution for our growing demand for electricity.”
The Solar GCC Alliance exists as an online umbrella platform to encourage each of its affiliate countries to pursue independent solar development, while simultaneously providing an infrastructure for international collaboration. Affiliate countries include Oman, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt and Palestine.
OSIA has also welcomed declarations by the Omani government to update regulatory policies to underpin the growth of renewables in the Sultanate.  Plans for large-scale renewables and rooftop PV systems are a step in the right direction, said Al Zaabi.
“I predict a bright future for our country through the development and growth of solar and renewable energy, as it will save us costs, create a new sector of employment and job opportunities, and lastly provide clean sustainable energy for our current and future generations,” he added.