Oman takes a giant leap in reducing carbon emissions

Oman Monday 06/November/2023 20:00 PM
By: Times News Service
Oman takes a giant leap in reducing carbon emissions

MUSCAT: In a significant stride towards fulfilling Oman’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions and its ambitious target of achieving net zero by 2050, the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) system for desalination was inaugurated in Sur on Monday.

Eng. Salim bin Nasser Al Aufi, the Minister of Energy and Minerals, presided over the unveiling of the 17-megawatt peak (MWp) solar photovoltaic farm, generating clean energy to power the Sharqiyah Desalination Plant in Sur.

This pioneering project will boast an annual capacity of over 32,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of green electricity, fully covering the desalination plant’s energy requirements during daylight hours.

Developed by Veolia in collaboration with TotalEnergies, the plant is poised to curtail around 27,200 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually, a reduction equivalent to the emissions generated by roughly 6,000 internal combustion engine-powered vehicles over the same period.

The journey of this solar plant commenced with construction in August 2022, followed by rigorous testing from March 30 to April 15, 2023. The plant’s commercial operation was successfully achieved on April 16, 2023, with a lease agreement in place for the solar farm operation until March 31, 2036.

During the inauguration ceremony, Al Aufi said, “I am glad to witness the official inauguration of this crucial solar photovoltaic facility at the Sharqiyah Desalination Plant, serving the clean drinking water needs of over 600,000 inhabitants in the Sharqiyah region. This solar plant aligns seamlessly with global efforts towards energy transition for a net-zero world. Furthermore, it represents a significant contribution to water security in Oman and is aligned with our National Energy Strategy, which aims to derive 30 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2030, one of the key objectives of Oman Vision 2040. I commend Veolia, its partners, and all involved in the development of this project for their unwavering commitment and diligent efforts in bringing this initiative to fruition.” 

Philippe Bourdeaux, Vice President Africa, Near & Middle East of Veolia, said, “We are delighted to witness the commencement of our solar project’s mission.

“The realisation of this achievement would not have been possible without the steadfast support from the leadership in the Sultanate of Oman, particularly the Ministry of Energy and Minerals. We extend our gratitude to them and our private sector partners for their support in joining local efforts towards energy transition and decarbonisation. Veolia aspires to be a global leader in ecological transformation. Water and renewable energy are pivotal areas of focus for our Group. Given the mounting challenges posed by climate change, we have developed substantial expertise in reducing carbon emissions across our operations and projects. In this transformative journey, renewables play an indispensable role in providing green energy while ensuring an uninterrupted supply of vital resources, such as drinking water.”

The inauguration was graced by the presence of senior management from Veolia and Total Energies, along with government officials and representatives from the Sharqiyah Desalination Company SAOG (SDC) and the Nama Power and Water Procurement Company (NPWP).

Denis Le Maout, Chairman of the Board of Sharqiyah Desalination Company SAOG, underscored the importance of their desalination plant. He said, “With a desalination capacity of 131,837 cubic meters per day (m3/day) and over 400 million m3 of water produced since 2007, our Sur desalination plant ranks among the most critical projects in the Sultanate, serving as a lifeline for delivering clean drinking water to local communities while mitigating the extraction of already scarce freshwater resources. In light of the substantial environmental and economic costs associated with conventional desalination processes, our focus has been on harnessing the potential of innovative technologies, including renewable energy, to positively impact the environment, create economic opportunities, and contribute to the overall welfare of the community.”

Ahmed bin Salim Al Abri, the acting CEO of Nama for Power and Water Procurement Company (PWP), said, “NPWP is actively collaborating with water desalination plants to support their transition to the use of renewable energy for desalination purposes. This initiative aligns with Oman’s objectives to achieve 30 percent of electricity generation from renewable sources by 2030 and 40 percent by 2040. The inauguration of the solar farm will ensure a sustainable water supply to North and South Al Sharqiyah Governorates through the use of renewable energy.”

Veolia, a French-based company, has been actively engaged in Oman for over 15 years, with a substantial presence in various regions of the country. Oman holds strategic importance for Veolia, as the company has developed and delivered a diverse array of innovative, cost-effective, and sustainable solutions in alignment with Oman’s objectives for a green and circular economy.