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    Oman plans first ever thermal solar project in Duqm

    The Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP) — the sole procurer of new electricity and water capacity under the Sector Law — is contemplating the development of the nation’s first-ever Thermal Solar project to support the future energy requirements of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Duqm.

    The state-run utility — part of Nama Group — however noted that plans for a Thermal Solar plant will only proceed if a Clean Coal Independent Power Project (IPP) proposed at Duqm does not get the government’s green-light before the end of this year.
    Oman plans first ever thermal solar project in Duqm
    Envisaged in lieu of the clean coal power plant is a 600 MW Thermal Solar project — also known as a Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) project, OPWP said in its newly published 7-Year Outlook Statement spanning the 2019-2025 timeframe.

    CSP plants use thousands of parabolic trough mirrors to convert the sun’s energy into high-temperature heat which is then channelled through a conventional generator to produce electricity. The proposed venture will also include thermal storage to keep operating after sundown.

    Explaining its vision for supporting the Duqm SEZ’s electricity requirements, the procurer said: “Upon direction from the Government, OPWP initiated procurement of a Clean Coal IPP in 2018, following a feasibility study. The project has not yet been approved, pending policy evaluation of alternatives. Considering the need to develop a baseload generator to serve the Duqm load centre, OPWP plans to develop a Thermal Solar project with thermal storage if the procurement of the clean coal project is not approved to proceed in 2019. The Thermal Solar project is planned to provide around 600 MW by 2025, about the same capacity of the first block of the Clean Coal IPP.”

    Electricity demand growth is projected to grow at a blistering 23 per cent per annum over the next five years in line with expectations of strong investment inflows into the SEZ — the largest of its kind in the Middle East. The SEZ and its environs are currently served by a 67 MW diesel powered plant operated by the Rural Areas Electricity Company (RAECO).

    Given the SEZ’s importance as a potential dynamo of Oman’s long-term economic growth, the government is keen to ensure its energy needs are secured. To this end, Oman Electricity Transmission Company (OETC) — also part of Nama Group — is working to integrate the Duqm Power System with the Main Interconnected System (MIS) that covers much of the northern half of Oman. The North-South Interconnection Project will be substantially in place by 2023.

    Significantly, OPWP also plans to develop wind-based energy plants and a baseload generation plant in the Duqm region, to be available soon after the North-South Interconnect reaches Duqm. OPWP sees the potential for around 200 MW of wind-based capacity to be added to the local grid from 2024.

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