Muscat: Renewable energy projects in the interior region will be tendered out by as early as end of this year as a part of Rural Area Electricity Company’s (RAECO) strategy to increase renewable energy footprint in the country, officials said.
One of the first companies to begin solar energy initiative to replace expensive and high emission producing diesel generated plants, RAECO has begun feasibility test in 11 different locations in Oman to implement hybrid energy systems around the country. “We have hired consultants to advice us on feasible hybrid electricity generation model for 11 areas in Oman. By end of the year we will start tendering out these projects to convert them from pure diesel to hybrid. We are targeting to achieve 25 per cent of energy needs from renewables in these locations,” Saleh Al Rumhy, CEO of RAECO said.
“We were the first company to move into renewables through our solar initiative in Mazyona area in 2013. We want a cost effective and economic model to harness solar or wind energy. The consultants will give us advice on legal aspects, construction framework and technical knowhow,” he added.
Companies in Oman are looking at hybrid models instead of standalone renewable energy power generation plants as cost effective energy storage technology is still unavailable.
In 2014, Abu Dhabi’s Masdar signed an agreement with RAECO to build a $125 million wind energy farm in Dhofar region that would generate 50 MW to power 16,000 homes in the country.
“It all depends on investment in these projects. We have carried out a number of test projects to find out if renewable energy is feasible in the country and noticed that cost of these projects are falling significantly. The recent Sahim initiative is another project that is likely to test prices as well as consumer appetite for such projects. If people we see economic benefit out of this, it will open doors for serious investment opportunities in this sector,” Al Rumhy said.
He added that as power generation projects are connected to the grid unlike most of RAECO operated projects, it will have a major impact to generate electricity in the country and will benefit all distributing companies.
The Sahim initiative launched last month allows corporate and individual clients to install rooftop solar panels that are connected to the grid, thereby transferring excess power back to the grid and being compensated for it.
Officials said that the initiative is moving forward with a lot of interest from customers and two companies have already registered for this initiative while many others have hired consultants to advice them on implementing solar harnessing projects on a large scale.