Muscat: Oman’s first solar only facility located in Wahiba Sands is expected to be ready by June this year, according to officials.
Equipped with an energy efficient architecture, the facility will save up to OMR 65,000 over the next ten years in comparison to conventional buildings. It will serve as the base camp to Outward Bound Oman’s desert expeditions in Sharqiyah Sands where young explorers will reside before venturing into the desert.
“To our knowledge this is the first project in the Sultanate which will be completely reliant on a solar solution to meet the energy needs of the project,” Stuart Caunt, the Director at 23 degrees North, who are the consultants for this project said.
The remote site is located two kilometers from the nearest electrical network covering an area of 5,000 square meters.
“The design points to a protected central courtyard, to reconnecting people with their environment, and provides essential facilities to support challenges and research in unfamiliar settings. For sustainability aspects we have kept in mind variables such as orientation of the building in terms of sun and wind movement. We will also be recycling water to irrigate trees on the site. We have also tried to keep the community aspect in terms of aesthetics so that the site just sits appropriately in the middle of the desert,” he explained.
Spread over an area of 100 square meters and rotated 23 degrees to the South for optimal performance, the solar panels are expected to produce 120 kwh of electricity in 8 hours of sunlight to power electric systems including cooling and lighting. Half of the produced electricity is directly used during the day while the rest is stored in battery to be used when the sun goes down.
“Oman has a huge potential for solar and I am surprised it is not tapped into commercially yet. With an average of 342 cloudless skies, Oman has the highest solar density in the world after Mexico; therefore solar was a no brainer. Half of the power produced was stored in batteries to be utilized at night,” he said.
“The reason why solar is considered expensive is because of battery storage of power but new technologies available now, including Tesla’s battery , is efficient and cheaper.”
Stuart added that incase the solar panels fail to produce the right energy a back up diesel generator kicks in to produce electricity.
Caunt emphasised that while constructing new buildings whether residential or commercial, people must keep in mind the future and make it future proof.
“The best way to predict the future is to design it,” he stated.