Oman connected a 500 MW utility-scale renewable energy plant to the grid on Jan. 24 as the Gulf oil producer continues to diversify its energy mix.
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The Ibri 2 solar project was built on the basis of an independent power producer model at a cost of $417 million by a consortium of Saudi Arabia's Acwa Power, Gulf Investment Corp. and Alternative Energy Projects. It is the country's largest utility-scale renewables project and is its first to be completed and connected to the grid under its national renewable energy program. The Ibri scheme will supply energy to the Oman Power & Water Procurement Co. over 15 years.
"Ibri 2 will be a turning point for launching similar projects in the field of renewable energy, and similarly, we are currently developing two solar plants in the governorate of Ad Dakhiliyah with a total capacity of 1,000 MW, in addition to wind projects in the governorates of North Al Sharqiyah and Al Wusta," Yaqoob al-Kiyumi, CEO of Oman Power, said in a statement on Jan. 24.
Oman, which is not a member of OPEC, is one of the smaller Gulf oil producers. It has yet to pledge reaching net zero by the middle of the century, unlike neighboring UAE and Saudi Arabia. However, it plans to ramp up renewable energy in its power mix to 20% by 2030 and 39% by 2040, according to its national energy strategy. To achieve this, it will need to develop at least 2.66 GW of renewables by then.
The plan relies mainly on photovoltaic solar, accounting for about 79% of the capacity, with the remaining coming from wind.
Currently the majority of electricity in Oman is generated by burning crude oil (65%) and natural gas (35%).
The Ibri 2 plant will produce enough power to meet the requirements of 50,000 homes, offsetting 340,000 mt of carbon dioxide, Acwa Power said.
The project consists of 1.5 million bi-facial solar panels and spans an area of 13 million sq m.