Potential for 750 MW wind in southern Oman

Up to 750 MW of wind power could be built in southern Oman, according to a recent report by Danish consultancy Cowi. Although Oman currently meets all its energy needs from indigenous supplies of oil and gas, the government is keen to diversify the resource base and reduce carbon emissions. The study, commissioned by Oman's Authority for Electricity Regulation, identified favourable wind resources along the country's southern coast and in the Dhofar mountains north of Salalah, where the highest average annual wind speeds recorded were over 8 m/s. Wind speeds peak in the summer, when demand is at its highest. Lack of grid capacity, however, is a problem, with the Salalah grid only able to take up about 50 MW of wind power. For the full 750 MW to be realised, the Salalah grid would have to be linked in with the larger, northern network. Cowi recommends the building of small demonstration projects, such as a 10 MW grid-connected plant at Quiroon Hariti or Thumrait in the Dhofar mountains, along with hybrid wind and solar projects in isolated areas. The report recommends a number of market structures for wind power, from tax credits to fixed purchase prices. Free access to land, free grid connection, preferential loans and tax holidays would reduce costs and increase competitiveness with natural gas generation, says Cowi. It recommends allowing licensed distribution and supply companies to connect renewable energy projects to their systems.