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Oman sets new launch dates for Manah Solar I & II power projects

New timeframes: Unprecedented slump in electricity demand growth linked to economic downturn and pandemic impacts project delivery timelines

MUSCAT: The Omani government’s plans for the procurement of two major utility-scale solar powered projects in the interior of the country are still on track, delayed by a year.

According to Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP) – the sole buyer of electricity output, the Manah Solar I and II Independent Power Projects (IPPs) – each having a generation capacity of 500 megawatts (MW) – are now slated for commercial operation in Q4 2023 and Q1 2024 respectively.  This compares with earlier timelines of Q4 2022 and Q1 2023 respectively.

The announcement came during the recent annual media briefing hosted by Nama Group, the parent holding company of government-owned power and related water assets in the Sultanate. At the event, senior Nama Group officials also revealed that total power supply across the Sultanate slumped an unprecedented 1.9 per cent for the first time last year due to the economic downturn as well as disruptions linked to the pandemic. 

As many as nine international consortiums have been prequalified to participate in OPWP’s competitive tender for the Manah Solar I and II schemes. The list includes leading developers from the Middle East, Europe, China, and Far East along with their Omani joint ventures. Technical submissions for the two schemes were received by OPWP earlier this year, while the deadline for submission of commercial proposals has been extended to May 25, 2021.

Meanwhile, the first commercial-scale solar PV based renewable energy project to be procured by OPWP is scheduled to commence commercial operation in the second half of this year, according to the state-owned procurer. Shams Ad-Dhahira Generating Company, backed by ACWA Power, is currently completing work on its 500 MW solar IPP at Ibri in Al Dhahirah Governorate. 

Further, in line with the government’s target to secure at least 10 per cent of the country’s electricity supplies from renewable resources by 2025, OPWP is weighing the potential for new wind-powered based capacity. In February 2020, the company commissioned wind monitoring stations at Duqm and Jalaan Bani Bu Ali to assess wind resources in these areas - a prerequisite for procuring commercial-scale wind farms.

Source: Oman Daily Observer

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