Oman to support rooftop solar, power potential estimated at 1.4GW

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Oman’s Authority for Electricity Regulation (AER) is promoting solar power generation among local homeowners. The regulator is currently working on its Solar Rooftop Project, a program that will make it possible for people to install PV systems on their rooftops and sell generated power in exchange for cuts in their electricity tariffs.

“We are currently establishing minimum technical standards and metering to compensate (customers for electricity supplied to the grid) from their rooftop photovoltaic installations,” the AER’s executive director Qais bin Saud al Zakwani told the Oman Daily Observer.

Last year, a study by Oman’s Public Authority for Electricity and Water (PAEW) estimated that rooftop PV systems installed across the country could potentially generate 1.4 GW of renewable energy. In the Oman capital Muscat alone, the generated power capacity could reach 450 MW, the study shows.

The key part of the research was to investigate the importance of incentives for renewable energy development. Announcing the result of the research for the press, the PAEW’s Senior Engineer Khalil Alzidi called for introduction of a Feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme in the country:

“One of the recommendations that came out of the study was for the introduction of a feed-in-tariff mechanism, which does not exist at the moment,” he told the Oman Daily Observer. “The absence of FITs is one of the shortcomings that needs to be addressed if private investment in renewable energy development is to make headway in the Sultanate.”

Whether or not Oman’s government is going to follow this advice soon, the introduction of the Solar Rooftop Project is an important step along the road towards more solar power. According to AER’s executive director, the initiative is expected not only to drive the growth of renewable power capacity, but also enhance security of electricity supply during contingencies.

The Solar Rooftop Project will initially focus on residential units but can eventually be extended to commercial rooftops, Zakwani said to Reuters. He also added that it was too early to estimate the financial size of the program, which is expected to be introduced by mid-year.