Muscat: Replacing gas and other conventional energy, Oman could exploit 320 days of regular sunshine to generate more solar power than any European country.
“Solar energy is cheap and it could account for most of the energy in Oman,” said Daniel Zywietz, vice chairman of the Clean Business Energy Council, who was speaking on the second day of the coveted energy conference on Tuesday.
Zywietz is also the chief executive officer of Enerwhere, which claims to have built the world’s first rental provider of modular solar-hybrid power plants for off grid power needs.
“If you take a look at the recent tender results from the Middle East, solar is not an expensive form of power generation. It’s the cheapest cost of power generation. The tender results a few weeks ago from Dubai showed... basically last year there was a tender for a coal fired power plant that came in for 4.8 cents per kilowatt hour. This year the same company put in a bid for 3.9 cents per kilowatt-hour for a solar power plant,” he explained.
He warned Oman against wasting time on other sources of energy, adding: “Let me be a bit controversial here. Don’t waste your time on things that are second or third-class when you have a word-class resource. Oman is a desert country. What is scarce here is biomass,” he said.
He added, “How many volcanoes do you have? Not one. Just do a mass count on how many biomass plants or geo thermal plants can you build, or what you can get out of it. Don’t waste your time because you will spend lots of money on feasibility and consultancy. It’s pretty simple.”
“So for the same kilowatt per hour power, why would you pay five times more for using other conventional power generation methods?” he argued.
Gurmeet Kaur of Eversheds, which advises public and private clients on infrastructure and energy projects, said Oman must aggressively pursue solar energy production and that cost of solar power in Dubai has already reduced.
“There is no reason why Oman should decide to go forward with other programmes. You have sun, you have bidders, who are in the region, and there is funding available for these projects,” she stated.
Calling for proper legislation, she added, “The proper legislation will give confidence to the investors. They need to know their investments are going to be secure. You need transparent evaluation and criteria. There needs to be protection from expropriation, changes in law, compensation and things like that in legislation for such investment.”
Dawood Al Qassabi, the head of New Technology Implementation, Petroleum Development Oman, said Oman is looking forward to the Miraah solar project, which will become operational in 2017.
The project—the biggest in the Middle East—will harness the sun’s rays to produce steam, which will be used to extract heavy and viscous oil.
“We are already using PV (photovoltaic) cells to lighten some streets and accommodations in interior Oman and Al Qurum, but it all comes down to cost effectiveness and the maintenance of the cells. They need to be cleaned. It’s also about operability,” he said.