MUSCAT: Renewable capacity expansion in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is projected to grow three-fold over the next five years (2023 – 2028), with the Sultanate of Oman ranked among the front-runners in driving this growth. According to a new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), Oman’s renewables capacity growth is set to be the fourth largest in the region after Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Morocco.

These countries will account for the lion’s share of the 62 gigawatt (GW) increase in renewables capacity anticipated in the region by 2028, the Paris-based intergovernmental agency noted in its newly published report. “Over the next five years, the pace of growth is expected to accelerate to more than three times the previous five-year period, with solar PV making up over 85 per cent of the increase. Onshore wind and concentrated solar power also contribute,” said the IEA in its report, titled ‘Renewables 2023: Analysis and forecast to 2028’.

Driving much of this growth will be efforts by individual countries to decarbonize their electricity generation, but green hydrogen production is set to play a major role as well, according to the report. This is particularly the case in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Oman, it pointed out. “In fact, hydrogen accounts for more than 13 per cent of the region’s renewable capacity growth thanks to government policies to stimulate development for trade. Good solar resources, land availability and existing port infrastructure create favourable conditions for economically attractive renewable hydrogen to be shipped to demand centres in Europe and Asia,” the agency further stated.

Additionally, the report reaffirmed Oman’s positioning among the world’s top exporters of renewable hydrogen. It said: “By 2028, potential export countries could account for over one-fifth of hydrogen-driven renewable capacity deployment, led by Saudi Arabia, Australia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. With the prospect of producing economically attractive renewable hydrogen to ship to potential demand centres in Europe and Asia, these countries aim to become major exporters of renewable hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels.”

A revised Renewable Energy Plan enshrined in Oman’s 2040 Vision seeks to secure 16 per cent of electricity from renewables by 2025, rising to 30 per cent by 2030. Clean energy capacity is projected to rise to 2.6 GW by 2025 under the National Energy Master Plan. Supplementing this strategy is a commitment to embracing green hydrogen to, on the one hand, decarbonise the economy, and on the other to evolve into a major producer and exporter of renewable hydrogen. Green hydrogen output is targeted at around 1 million tonnes per annum by 2030.

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