Muscat - The Sultanate’s proposed maiden foray into coal-based power generation envisions an Independent Power Project (IPP) of a capacity ranging from 1,500 to 2,500 megawatts (MW), according to industry experts familiar with this landmark initiative.
Oman Power and Water Procurement Company SAOC (OPWP), the sole procurer of electricity generation and water desalination capacity, has been mandated to explore the potential for coal-based power generation in the Sultanate. This is in response to a policy decision of the government to study the diversification of primary fuel resources for the electricity and water sector.
As a first step, OPWP is in the process of appointing consultants to provide advisory services covering the financial, commercial, technical and legal aspects of developing the nation’s first ever coal-fired IPP. The proposed venture will be executed on a Build – Own – Operate (BOO) basis, similar to how conventional natural gas-based power schemes are currently implemented, it is learnt.
While preliminary plans drawn up by OPWP call for the establishment of a coal-fired plant of a capacity range of 1,500 — 2,500MW, the actual size of the proposed project still remains to be decided. The final capacity will be determined based on the recommendations of the advisory services team, subject to a final decision by the government to embark on coal based power generation.
Moves towards coal-based electricity generation received a boost when Tanfeedh, the National Programme for Enhancing Economic Diversification, recently mooted a stronger uptake of renewable and non-renewable energy sources, notably coal and petcoke, as potential fuel resources. Among its 120-odd proposals for accelerating economic growth in the face of the global economic crunch is an initiative for the development of a 500MW capacity coal-fired power plant in Duqm.
Also as part of their remit, the selected consultants will study and recommend suitable locations for the establishment of Oman’s maiden coal fired IPP. Duqm is widely tipped to host the first such project, given the presence of the requisite logistical and environmental underpinnings necessary to support coal based power generation. However, in choosing potential sites, the consultants will also need to keep in mind the cost and availability of support infrastructure, access to the existing grid, and so on.
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