Muscat: Omanâ€™s largest solar power plant that can power up to 33,000 homes and remove 340,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from the countryâ€™s footprint per annum is likely to be up and running by the middle of next year.
Located near Ibri, the capital of the Dhahirah Governorate, the solar power plant will cost about $400 million, and will generate about 1,300 gigawatt hours of power annually. Construction on the power plant began in the second quarter of 2020, and will supply power to the government-run Oman Power and Water Procurement Company.
Called the Oman Ibri II power plant, the project is being developed by three companies: local company ACWA Power and two companies from Kuwait – Gulf Investment Corporation (GIC) and Alternative Energy Projects Company, with funding being decided on a build, own, operate basis, with a 70:30 debt to equity ratio.
The electricity generated from the project will be stored in inverters supplied by Chinese energy company Sungrow. These inverters can operate in temperatures of up to 50 degrees Celsius without any reduction in performance, making it viable to set up in the Omani desert with its arid conditions.
Alvin Shi, the companyâ€™s managing director for the MENA region, said, â€śSungrow has been in Oman for over three years and retains a 100 per cent market share in the Omani solar market. Besides the signed 500MW project in Oman you may notice Sungrow products and solutions have been installed widely in the MENA region. This January, Sungrow signed two distribution agreements totalling 200MW to supply commercial, industrial and residential inverter solutions in this region. Other featured projects include an 18MW commercial rooftop plant in the UAE and a 105MW solar plant in Oman which is about to be online soon.â€ť
He went on to say, â€śThe Ibri project is the largest photovoltaic plant in the country to date. It is located in a desert 300 km to the west of Muscat, with ample sunshine and abundant flat land. It is favourable to set up solar plants in this vibrant market, as is in other key markets in the MENA regions due to the regional initiatives on renewable energy and ample abundant sunlight.â€ť
Beijing-headquartered multilateral lender the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will offer 16.5-year loans along with state-controlled entities Bank Muscat, in Oman, Riyad Bank, in Saudi Arabia, and sharia-compliant Kuwaiti lender Warba Bank, London-based Standard Chartered Bank, and Germanyâ€™s Siemens Bank complete the line-up of lenders.
The project is also part of the Sultanateâ€™s efforts to diversify its sources of energy, which are primarily derived from fossil-fuel based products such as oil and natural gas, which is part of the countryâ€™s Tanfeedh plans for economic expansion.
The Ibri II solar plant is expected to play a strategic role in building Omanâ€™s renewable production capacity,â€ť said Rajit Nanda, chief investment officer for ACWA Power.
â€śWe are delighted to partner with best-in-class entities such as Sungrow, that will support us in delivering long-term sustainable benefits for all our stakeholders through providing advanced, tailor-made solutions.
James Wu, the Vice President of Sungrow, went on to add, â€śWeâ€™re glad to decarbonise the local economy by bringing in more flagship products. Itâ€™s another fabulous milestone for us in Oman, and across the Gulf Cooperation Council.â€ť