Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), the Sultanate’s largest oil and gas producer, has commissioned a new ground-mounted solar photovoltaic (PV) project at its Mina Al Fahal head office in Muscat.
Dubbed ‘Wahaj’, it complements the company’s existing solar PV panelled car park complex at Mina Al Fahal.
According to a senior official, Wahaj is capable of generating around 1 megawatt-peak (1 MWp) of solar-powered electricity per day, which is enough to power around 50 residential homes. Equipped with sun-tracking technology, the plant’s roughly 3,150 PV panels can track the sun throughout the day, thus optimising electricity generation from solar energy, Zahran al Abri, In-Country Value (ICV) Development Manager, said.
Around 1,800 tons of CO2 emissions — the greenhouse gas responsible for global warming and climate change — are saved annually as a result of the plant’s carbon-neutral operations.
In contrast, the car-park mounted solar PV scheme launched a couple of years ago also at PDO’s head office, offers around 6 MWp of generation capacity, making it the largest of its kind in the Sultanate. Its 28,900 panels generate enough electricity to power around 900 homes, effectively contributing to a saving of 7.2 million cubic metres of natural gas annually by harnessing the sun’s energy for electricity.
At Ras Al Hamra — the company’s upscale residential neighbourhood in Mina Al Fahal — PDO is close to completing a pilot scheme that will see as many as 10 houses equipped with solar PV for much of their energy requirements.
Following the pilot’s success, PDO is now preparing to roll-out solar PV systems across all 588 homes that make up the superbly designed residential complex. The initiative is currently under design, with a tender for its implementation due to be floated before the end of this year, said Al Abri.
While small-scale in comparison, the solar PV projects at Mina Al Fahal and Ras Al Hamra represent part of an ambitious portfolio of renewable energy-based investments that PDO has made thus far. Notable is the Miraah project — a rough 1 GW scheme that harnesses the sun’s energy to produce heavy oil from the Amal reservoir in PDO’s Block 6 license.
Last year, the company brought into operation a 100 MW solar PV scheme — procured as an Independent Power Project — to power its activities in the south of the country. When it was commissioned last year, Amin Renewable Energy project became the world’s first utility scale solar scheme to have an oil and gas company as the sole buyer of electricity.
More recently, PDO unveiled plans to develop another 100 MW solar scheme in the north of its concession, coupled with a battery storage component. It is also looking at a 100 MW wind-based scheme in the south. Opportunities for hydrogen and other alternative energy-based green fuels are being explored as well.
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