Solar potential in Oman has gone unused till now. That is about to change
Indian renewable energy company Astonfield Renewable Resources, which has dedicated itself to creating solar in the developing world nations of Africa, India and the Middle East, has just been selected to help develop 200 MW of solar power for the Sultan of Oman.
The selection followed last month’s visit to Oman’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Maqbool bin Ali bin Sultan by a very high-level delegation from India, led by the Indian Minister of New and Renewable Energy, who was accompanied by the CEOs of eight or so Indian renewable energy firms, including Astonfield Renewable Resources director Ameet Shah.
This 200 MW proposal represents a huge jump in solar power for Oman, which has only a few megawatts of solar in production to date, and is hardly a leader in the Middle East.
As recently as 2004, Oman had no renewable energy at all. Its entire 3.3 gigawatt demand was met by fossil-fueled electricity.
But in 2008 the Authority for Electricity Regulation studied renewable energy options for the country and proposed that while there was some potential for geothermal, biogas and wave energy, that the country’s renewable potential would be best served by focusing on deploying solar and wind projects.
Oman put out requests for proposals in May of 2010 and received six offers, of which Astonfield has the winning proposal.
To date, Astonfield’s portfolio consist of an assortment of renewable projects in India, ranging in size from 5 MW up to 300 MW projects, for a total of 1,000 MW. They include biomass, waste-to-energy and solar projects. But the company’s expertize lies in meeting the peculiar challenges of solar development in the third world.
Jacob Saper, senior manager of Global Strategy, said that “Astonfield has developed a proven, flexible formula that emphasizes localization and cost-efficiency without sacrificing quality through bottom up collaboration between experienced local engineering teams and top-tier global technology providers.”
His company will help Oman develop a pilot solar program to develop local knowledge and a track record ahead of scale-up.