Oman's Sohar Port and Freezone, a deep-sea port and adjacent free zone located in the homonymous coastal city, is planning to host a large scale green hydrogen generation hub powered by solar power plants.
According to the whitepaper SOHAR Port and Freezone Going Green, published by the port's CEO, Mark Geilenkirchen, the project is being developed with the cooperation of the Port of Rotterdam, which owns a 50% stake in Sohar Port and Freezone, and Germany-based hydrogen specialist Hydrogen Rise AG. “The planned facility will create carbon-free hydrogen from low-cost solar power, stored for use on demand,” Geilenkirchen stated.
This new hydrogen hub should be mostly powered by several solar plants under development in the port's area. “With declining costs for solar PV generation, building electrolyzers at our Sohar location with excellent renewable resource conditions could become a low-cost supply option for hydrogen,” the CEO explained. “Apart from our small scale solar park powering our headquarters in Sohar, we are planning larger, utility scale power generation facilities within the industrial port and the adjoining free zone in line with our strategy to offer competitively priced, solar photovoltaics-based electricity to industrial end-users and other tenants operating within the hub.”
This plan envisages the deployment or around 3.5 GW of PV capacity, which is equivalent to the port's total electricity consumption.
Around 300 MW of this capacity will be deployed by the Anglo-Dutch oil and gas provider Shell, which in April 2019 announced a plan to build its first 25 MW PV plant at a carbon ferrochrome smelter facility owned by Al Tamman Indsil Ferrochrome LLC. This project, according to Geilenkirchen, will come online by the end of this year.
The Portuguese and Dutch governments announced in September a plan to connect the hydrogen project of Sines, in Portugal, to the Port of Rotterdam and to develop a strategic export-import value chain to ensure the production and transport of green hydrogen to the Netherlands and its hinterland.
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Sohar port is just a few km from arid mountains where pumped storage using seawater would probably be viable. But SFIK nobody is looking at this seriously for Oman. Dutch readers may be unfamiliar with the concept of “mountains”: they are big rocks that stick up, sometimes several thousand metres high. A pumped storage system involves building two dams at different heights, and using the higher reservoir as a hydro battery.
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