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| 26 November, 2017

Oman's rooftop solar plan gets EU boost

Image used for illustrative purpose. An employee of Tokyo Electric Power Company, Inc. (TEPCO) stands in front of solar panels at a solar power field in Kawasaki, near Tokyo June 27, 2011.

Image used for illustrative purpose. An employee of Tokyo Electric Power Company, Inc. (TEPCO) stands in front of solar panels at a solar power field in Kawasaki, near Tokyo June 27, 2011.

Reuters/Toru Hanai

Rooftop solar installations are becoming increasingly cost-effective for homeowners, businesses and local communities

The European Union (EU), one of the earliest and biggest advocates of renewable energy development, is pitching in with technological knowhow and industry stakeholder assistance in support of Oman’s newly unveiled strategy for promoting investment in small-scale grid-connected solar photovoltaic capacity in the Sultanate.

Together with its partners in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the EU is organising a two-day workshop in Muscat showcasing not only the latest rooftop solar PV technologies on offer, but also trends and developments that are driving the uptake of renewables elsewhere around the world.

The ‘EU-GCC Workshop on Solar PV Roof Top Technologies’, due to be held during December 13-14, 2017, is backed by the EU-GCC Clean Energy Technology Network, an initiative that stemmed from the GCC-EU Ministerial Council meeting in Luxembourg in 2010. Its mandate is to strengthen cooperation between the EU and the GCC in the area of sustainable clean energy and energy efficiency, as well as advance the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change concluded in December 2015. Supporting the organisation of the workshop are the Authority for Electricity Regulations (AER) and Petroleum Development Oman (PDO).

“The aim of the event is to foster partnerships by bringing together high-level stakeholders from the EU and the GCC to discuss Solar PV Roof top technologies and options suitable for the region, exchange best practices and lesson learned and advance collaboration between EU and GCC actors,” said the Network in an explainer on the workshop.

The event promises to impart stronger momentum to nascent, yet ambitious, efforts by the government, spearheaded by the sector regulator, to jumpstart the roll-out of grid-connection small-scale solar PV capacity. The Sahim initiative unveiled by the Authority seeks to encourage the installation of rooftop solar panels on homes and buildings to generate sustainable and clean energy. Around 3,000-5,000 residential homes are proposed to be covered in the initial rollout of the project.

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Rooftop solar installations, according to the EU-GCC Clean Energy Technology Network, are becoming increasingly cost-effective for homeowners, businesses and local communities.

“Reductions in technology prices, innovative financing, and growing networks of solar installers and financial partners all helped drive down the prices for PV Rooftop systems. Dropping prices are due to economies of scale and technological advances. The falling price of rooftop PV systems results from improvements in the technology and economies of scale among manufacturer,” the Network explained.

Citing data published by the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), the EU-GCC Network noted that global solar PV installed capacity (for rooftop and other markets) surged from 99 gigawatts (GW) in 2010 to 303 GW in 2016.

“On the other hand, because rooftop solar can be installed in cities and towns, as opposed to remote locations, it offers job possibilities for local engineers and technicians. Unlike the fossil fuels, solar panels generate electricity with no air or carbon pollution, no ash or other waste products, and no inputs other than sunlight,” it further stressed.

Next month’s workshop is targeted at all kinds of public and private sector agencies that have a stake in the Sultanate’s imminent foray into solar PV capacity. They include project developers, financial institutions, technology leaders, industry advisories, financial experts, policy makers, interested homeowners, and entrepreneurs. Discussions will focus on key challenges and opportunities in rooftop segment in policies, project construction, engineering, technology advancement and investors perspective in commercial, industrial and residential space, according to the Network.

Day 2 of the event features a workshop that will introduce participants to a wide array of solar rooftop options. Geared primarily towards policymakers and energy experts, the workshop will cover key issues to be addressed when developing suitable domestic, commercial and industrial solar projects including O&M, commercial contracts and smart grids and data management.

Also taking part are experts from the Middle East Solar Industry Association (MESIA), a non-profit, non-governmental organisation that aims to promote solar energy in the region. MESIA has over 120 local, regional and international members including blue chip companies and founder members such as ABB, ACWA Power, ALSA, Solar, Apricum, Covington & Burling, Enviromena, Eversheds Sutherland, First Solar, Huawei, Microtron, SkyPower Synergy, and Value Addition.

© Oman Daily Observer 2017