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Oman starts construction of 4 solar plants, 2 wind farms

Oman has kicked off its plans to meet its surging electricity demands with renewables, announcing the construction of six renewable energy projects this year.

The Oman Daily Observer reported that the joint stock utility, Rural Areas Electricity Company, has started developing four solar plants and two wind facilities as part of its five-year renewable energy plan (2013-2017).

While the capacities of the renewable energy projects have not been divulged, the project sites have been identified. The projects are to be in different governorates of the country with a solar plant to be in Musandam and three in Al Wusta, while two wind farms are to be located in Dhofar.

Raeco said it is also working on two other wind farms in Masirah and Thamrait, which can produce 200 to 300 kilowatts of power. They are already in an advanced stage to start building a 350 kW solar project and a 750 kW wiond power project in Al Mazyuona and Masirah.

Electricity shortage is common in Oman, according to international law firm Norton Rose. Throughout summer of 2009 and 2010, the country experienced severe power shortages in part due to increase in demand by 180 percent between 2000 and 2010.

As with most countries in the southwest Asian region, annual power demand in Oman is highly seasonal, with summer demand being over twofold than in the winter due to the intensive use of air conditioning systems.

Norton Rose said these factors have led Oman to prioritize evaluating alternative sources of power, identifying solar and wind power to have the greatest commercial scale potential for the country.

Norton Rose cited a study by the German Aerospace Center which suggested that when this renewable energy is exploited effectively, it could generate as much as 4.1 terawatt hours of electricity – far greater than its expected economic potential.

The Arab state receives an extensive daily average of solar radiation ranging from 5,500 to 6,000 watt hours per meter squared per day in the month of July to 2,500 to 3,000 watt hours per meter squared a day in January, making it one of the highest solar energy densities in the world.

Three areas in particular have the greatest solar energy potential in the country. These are Marmul, Fahud and Sohar.

If solar energy replaced the current system of diesel and natural generators in the remote regions, this could help prevent the emissions of 11,000 tons of greenhouse gases annually.

In terms of wind energy, Norton Rose said Oman’s geographic location is well suited, sitting on a long stretch of coastline and being exposed to the strong summer and winter monsoon winds. The country has an average wind speed slightly over five meters per second and an estimated 2,463 hours of full load a year.

Four sites that are ideal for wind energy projects include Thumrait, Masirah, Sur and Qayroon Hyriti. – EcoSeed Staff

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