US company Astonfield to install pilot PV project in Oman

The Omani Rural Areas Electricity Company (RAECO) has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with U.S.-based solar company Astonfield to install a pilot solar PV project in Oman’s Al Mazyunah state.

The Middle East sultanate on the Arabian Peninsula enjoys high levels of solar radiation but has just modest levels of oil reserves compared to its immediate neighbours, Saudi Arabia. In response to a growing and increasingly wealthy population, the government of Oman has sought alternative energy sources, with solar power the most obvious renewable solution.

Local company Multitech will work in cooperation with Astonfield in order to plan, construct and operate the solar plant, which will have a capacity of 303 kW.

The Al Mazyunah Solar Energy Project will benefit from a considered approach from Astonfield, the company employing two different types of solar energy generation technologies – both thin film and polycrystalline modules – in order to best take advantage of local Omani conditions.

RAECO‘s PPA will run for a duration of 20 years. "We should already be in a position to use solar power, but due to cost of technology and the heavy subsidies, it wasn’t feasible before," RAECO CEO, Hamed bin Salim al Magdheri, told local media. "Now, however, it is feasible due to the available savings from fossil fuel costs.

"It is very important [to install solar] because we have two significant factors," al Magdheri continued. "Firstly, it is using electricity at a lower cost, and secondly, it is a chance to gather new data and learn from this project. Other considerations include the benefits to local Omani employees who can receive specialized training and gain employment from this project, which allows for a good base for similar future projects and more employment opportunities."