16 October 2016Conrad Prabhu
Muscat - After a hiatus spanning several years, commercial scale renewable energy development is expected to make headway in 2017 with Oman’s power sector authorities planning to appoint a consultant to assist in the tendering of the nation’s first large-scale solar project.
The tendering process, according to a top official of the Authority for Electricity Regulation
(Oman), will be overseen by the Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP
) in line with its mandate as the procurer of all new power generation and related water desalination capacity.
“OPWP at this point in time is working on the first stages of tendering for consultancy services for a large-scale solar plant,” the Authority’s Executive Director Qais Saud al Zakwani (pictured) said.
“Usually, what OPWP does when it comes to conventional power, it hires consultants to put in place the technical, legal and financial parameters for the (tender) terms of reference. OPWP will now hire consultants to do the same thing for large-scale renewable projects. The process will go forward in 2017,” he added in comments to the Observer.
The move bodes well for the launch of the Sultanate’s first commercial-scale solar energy based power plant envisaging an aggregate 200 MW of capacity and procured on the lines of an Independent Power Project (IPP). Two locations in Dakhiliyah Governorate — Adam and Manah — have been identified as prospective sites for the establishment of a grid-connected large-scale renewable energy scheme based on a combination of concentrated solar power and photovoltaic technologies.
OPWP, a member of Nama Group, has revealed recently that the government had given its ‘approval in concept’ of the construction of commercial scale renewable energy schemes, provided they meet with certain technical and economic criteria.
The state-owned entity had stated in its latest 7-Year Outlook Statement, covering the 2016-2022 timeframe, that it was working with the regulator to specify the evaluation terms that will enable large-scale, grid-connected projects to participate in competitive tenders for generation supply.
Speaking to the Observer, Al Zakwani also highlighted progress being achieved by the power sector in securing critical generation, transmission and distribution assets against potential cyber attacks.
“The cyber-security initiative is progressing very well,” the Executive Director said. “Implementation began at the beginning of this year, with companies given six months to put their cyber-security plans in place, as well as building competencies on cyber-security matters within their respective organisations. We are very happy with the feedback received about this initiative, and the level of importance given to this issue by the companies.”
All of the companies covered by the initiative have also submitted their strategies to the Authority on how they intend to implement cyber-security measures across their assets, he said.
Commenting on plans by the government to restructure the water sector, the Executive Director stated: “There’s a decision to restructure the water sector whereby this sector will be regulated in similar fashion to the electricity sector; however who the regulator is something that will be determined as well.”
© Oman Daily Observer 2016