Bright outlook for renewable energy

December 15, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

By Hasan Kamoonpuri — MUSCAT — Oman holds out huge solar and wind energy potential. Several huge renewable energy projects are in the pipeline. The Public Authority for Electricity and Water (PAEW) is planning to use renewable energy resources to provide potable water supplies in some remote areas. PAEW is also examining the possibility of installing energy recovery turbines at strategic points within its water network that can generate electricity from energy that is currently going waste in pressure reduction valves, Mohammed bin Abdullah al Mahrouqi, Chairman, PAEW, told the Observer. Oman is blessed with substantial renewable energy resources and has the potential to utilise renewable energy on a large scale, he adds. PAEW, in conjunction with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), is considering what policy instruments would best help accelerate and support the economic and efficient deployment of renewable energy technologies in the Sultanate so as to utilise Oman’s abundant renewable energy resources.

PAEW is seriously looking at the wider strategic role renewables can play in Oman’s future energy mix. Back in 2008, Authority for Electricity Regulation (AER) identified substantial solar and wind resources suitable for exploration. PAEW is now building on this work with plans to develop a National Wind Resource Atlas at the same time as the private sector and academic and research institutes are demonstrating the significant potential of renewable energy sources at a range of different scales. Solar energy projects in Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), Rural Areas Electricity Co (RAECO) and Knowledge Oasis Oman (KOM) have provided promising examples of further use of renewable energy sources.

The PDO is already using solar energy to produce a daily average of 50 tonnes of emission-free steam that feeds directly into existing thermal Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) operations at its Amal West field and reduces EOR gas consumption. RAECO has piloted the use of small scale renewable energy for public electricity supply and RAECO signed its first solar pilot project — a 303 kW PV solar plant at Al Mazyouna near Salalah — on November 14. It is a cost-effective solution to provide electricity in remote and isolated areas, says Al Mahrouqi. Three years of successful real time continuous technical monitoring of the 6MW/year concentrator photo voltaic (CPV) demonstrator at Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) has given positive results such as cost-effective, high yield energy production, and minimal water and maintenance requirements.

The PDO is currently conducting a study on using solar energy for power generation on larger scale than current applications. Dr Mustapha Taoumi of International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) told the Observer that MENA region has the world’s greatest technical potential for solar power generation. The region has good wind speeds and, in some cases, high potential for hydropower energy and waste. Further, renewable energy sources could replace the oil or gas currently used for power generation and the surpluses created could become available for more profitable downstream applications and export. In the same direction, the renewable energy industry could drive economic diversification and create jobs thereby help create wealth and added value to local economies. On the ground, a number of large-scale projects have been realised and others are under development to exploit this potential. Smaller installations are proliferating, mainly in areas far from the grid, says Dr Mustapha.

In order to facilitate the transition to a RE systems, IRENA has been working closely with Oman and its other members in MENA region on a range of projects and initiatives. This includes work in the areas of strategies, technology co-operation and capacity building. He says renewable energy presents an opportunity for the region to achieve a globally important position in the renewable energy market, which is likely to become the cornerstone of the low-carbon green economy of the future. As for the Renewables Readiness Assessment (RRA) in Oman, IRENA is extending cooperation in developing business model to introduce Renewable Energy in all the sectors of the economy particularly in the electricity sector; local manufacturers and SMEs to create jobs and added value to the local economy; desalination through Renewables (remote areas); and capacity building programme and public awareness campaigns.

Dr Mustapha says all GCC countries are embarking on a transformation, by turning to renewable energy for it can help meet rising domestic demand, economically and sustainably. Renewable energy can greatly reduce CO2 emissions. It can free hydrocarbon resources, for sale at market price.

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