Solar, wind energy to power agricultural farms in Oman

Energy Monday 06/November/2017 20:21 PM
By: Times News Service
Solar, wind energy to power agricultural farms in Oman

Muscat: Farms powered by wind turbines and solar PVs will become a reality in Oman soon, as time is ripe for Omani farmers to harvest energy from theiragricultural lands, along with harvesting crops.
The target set by the government stipulates that the Sultanate must harness 10 per cent of its energy requirement from renewable resources by 2025.
With huge land resources at their disposal, farmers can play a major role in helping to achieve this by setting up small to medium scale solar and wind farm projects on their land, according to speakers at the renewable energy conference organised by German Industry and Commerce Office in Oman.
“This is a different model, where farmers who make a living out of agriculture can now bring a new crop to their land, that is energy. Solar photovoltaics (PV) and wind farms can be installed in and around the farming lands, thereby supplying energy, both for personal use and, if excess is produced, it can be supplied to the grid,” Oliver Druke, an independent consultant in renewable energy from Germany, said. “For example, land used for date farming can have PVs installed in the area. They will provide farmers with electricity for all the requirement they have. Extra usage will help reduce the load on the grid. These systems can also be used for hydroponics,” said Druke.
Oman has large farm lands for the production of dates and other agricultural products, most of which are powered by gas fired on grid systems or off-grid diesel powered plants owned by Rural Area Electricity Distribution companies (RAECO).
The high cost of operations and carbon emissions make these plants an unsustainable option, in the long run.
Renewable energy farms
Moreover, as Oman has one of the highest rates of solar energy per square metre in the world, along with high winds across the south of the country, renewable energy farms can make a business case here.
Druke suggests that flexible investment options and bank loans must be given to such initiatives, as the initial cost of renewable energy investment is very high.
Generating energy through these sources can also offset losses from difficult years, in terms of crop yields.
Support from banks
“People who are ready to undertake such projects must get support from banks, in the form of loans or financing in different innovative ways, which can encourage them when building these plants,” noted Druke.
Oman currently has an installed PV capacity of 8MW, while up to 10 projects are planned.
Moreover, a Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) plant project of 1GW capacity at PDO’s Amal West oilfield is currently Being built. Of note, renewable energy rates have dropped by more than 70 per cent in the past few years, which has made renewable energy adoption in Oman more sensible.
Oman has already launched Sahim, the rooftop solar initiative for private customers and companies, through which they can install grid-connected solar panels on their rooftops and generate electricity for their own use, as well as supply the grid when production exceeds demand.
“We have seen record low PV prices around the world, and they are expected to go lower.
Through different solutions, we have done very well in Germany on this, and the companies from Germany can provide their knowledge to companies in Oman. We are proud to have economic relations with Oman,” said Thomas F.
Schneider, German Ambassador to Oman, during his welcoming address at the event.
The conference was entitled ‘Energy Solutions- Made in Germany’ and brought together government officials and the business community in Oman to discuss renewable energy solutions for Oman.