Oman has solidified its position as the frontrunner in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region concerning potential solar farm capacity, as per the latest data from the Global Solar Power Tracker.
This report, focusing on solar farm projects of 20 MW capacity and above, indicates that Oman ranks first in the MENA region and eleventh worldwide, boasting an impressive anticipated capacity of 18,349 megawatts (MW), equating to 1.55% of the global total capacity.
Oman’s robust dedication to renewable energy and its aspiration to diversify its energy mix is evident in the data provided by the Global Solar Power Tracker.
Capitalizing on its extensive desert landscapes and abundant sunlight, Oman has harnessed its solar potential, positioning itself at the forefront of the MENA region’s solar revolution.
The potential capacity encompasses the cumulative sum of solar farm projects in various phases, including those under construction, in the pre-construction stage, and those already announced. This indicates a substantial growth trajectory for Oman’s solar industry in the forthcoming years.
Beyond highlighting Oman’s commitment to renewable energy, the report also underscores the country’s remarkable progress in executing solar farm projects. Presently, Oman has four operational solar farms, three in the construction phase, twelve in the pre-construction stage, and two announced projects. These advancements signify a burgeoning and swiftly evolving solar sector within the nation.
Oman’s flagship renewable energy endeavor is the 500 MW Ibri Solar Power Complex, one of the largest solar installations in the region. Located in Al Dhahirah Governorate, the project supplies energy to around 33,000 homes and effectively offsets millions of tons of carbon emissions annually.
Additionally, the ongoing implementation of two Independent Power Projects (IPPs) at Manah is set to contribute 1,000 MW of new solar capacity when operational in 2025.
In recent developments, Nama Power & Water Procurement Company (Nama PWP), responsible for power and water procurement in Oman, has outlined plans to secure a new large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) Independent Power Project (IPP) by 2029. Tentatively named ‘Solar PV IPPs 2029,’ the project is slated to have a combined capacity of 1000 MW, consisting of two IPPs each with 500 MW.
The report also provides a broader view of the global solar farm landscape, revealing an astonishing total potential capacity of 1,184,296 MW. This underscores the escalating worldwide focus on renewable energy as countries endeavor to curtail carbon emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
The top five nations on the list include China, the United States, Spain, Australia, and India. In the MENA region, Oman leads the list at the eleventh spot, followed by Egypt (12th with 17,094 WM), Morocco (15th with 13,538 MW), Saudi Arabia (17th with 9,051 MW), Iraq (18th with 8,385 MW), and Kuwait (19th with 7,970 MW).
Oman’s achievement of securing the eleventh global position is a significant milestone not only for the country but also for the broader MENA region. It showcases the region’s extensive potential for solar energy generation and its substantial contribution to global renewable energy targets.
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The UAE Will Benefit From Its Global Leadership In The Clean And Renewable Energy Sector, as per Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD&CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), in a SOLAR QUARTER article reproduced below.
The presence of the Middle East and North Africa region on the global sustainability agenda continues to grow. The region is witnessing significant momentum in accelerating climate action and strengthening bridges of international cooperation to mitigate the repercussions of climate change. This can be seen from the hosting of the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP 27) in November 2022 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, and preparations of the UAE to host COP 28 in Dubai Expo City in November 2023, which will accelerate the pace of climate action to combat climate change and global warming. Choosing the two countries to host COP 27 and COP 28 marks the beginning of a series of regional events that will last for 18 months, placing the Arab world at the centre of global activities in mitigating climate change.
The two conferences highlight the region’s role in the sustainability agenda by adopting effective strategies to adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects. The two conferences are also of particular importance for supporting climate financing for developing countries and supporting energy transition sustainably and equitably for all relevant parties, consolidating constructive partnerships between the public and private sectors. They also enable bridging the gap between ̒the South and the North ̓ and between the developing and developed countries. This helps to find innovative green solutions to the challenges posed by climate change, ensuring long-term economic and social benefits for the region and the world and achieving a more sustainable future for all.
COP27 has provided many meaningful opportunities for the UAE’s investments, making COP28 essential for expanding economic growth and prosperity with lowered emissions. The UAE will also benefit from its track record in reducing emissions, its global leadership in the clean and renewable energy sector, as well as its good relations, that consolidate the bonds of communication and dialogue; and mobilize efforts to transform climate action into opportunities for economic development and diversification. Moreover, it aims to support the implementation of the outputs of the previous COPs to achieve the Paris Agreement and raise awareness in society on their role that can bring about a positive effect in reducing their carbon footprint. This aligns with the wise leadership’s vision to make COP28 the most successful global environmental conference.
COP28 is also an important platform to highlight the UAE’s journey toward achieving comprehensive sustainable development, the foundations of which were laid by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. This is turn, is supported by the wise directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE; and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to ensure a balance between economic growth and the sustainability of natural and environmental resources. This journey has resulted in the country assuming a leading global position in diversifying energy sources, through massive clean energy projects, the largest and most efficient solar power plants, in addition to being the first country in the region to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes to generate electric power. Oil and gas in the UAE are also among the least carbon-intensive in the world. The UAE is the first country in the region to ratify the Paris Agreement and to announce a strategic initiative to achieve Net Zero by 2050. The UAE also hosts the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The UAE has invested more than US$50 billion in clean energy projects in 70 countries including 40 developing nations and recently announced the UAE-US Partnership to Accelerate the Transition to Clean Energy (PACE). The project will catalyze US$100 billion in financing, investment, and other support and will deploy 100 gigawatts of clean energy globally.
To further spearhead the transition towards a green economy, the UAE Cabinet, Chaired by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, approved the UAE to join the Global Alliance for Green Economy, announced by the World Green Economy Organization (WGEO) during the World Green Economy Summit 2022. The Alliance will play a pivotal role in promoting climate action, food security, and climate resilient development. WGEO called for supporting this global alliance to accelerate the transition towards a green economy, achieve the goals of sustainable development, and the implementation of the Paris Agreement by harnessing financing, technology, capacity building, and other factors that contribute to enabling a green economy.
In Dubai, we have developed major projects and strategic initiatives implemented by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) to achieve the goals of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 and the Dubai Net Zero Carbon Emissions Strategy 2050 to provide 100% of Dubai’s total production capacity from clean energy sources by 2050. Among the most prominent of these projects is the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, the world’s largest single-site solar park using the Independent Power Producer (IPP) model, with a production capacity of 5,000 megawatts by 2030. DEWA is also implementing several leading projects to diversify clean energy sources. These include multiple clean and renewable energy sources and technologies such as PV panels, CSP, and green hydrogen production using solar power, which is the first of its kind in the MENA region to produce hydrogen using solar energy. DEWA is also working on pumped-storage water technology using clean energy in Hatta, the first of its kind in the GCC region. DEWA has also implemented several projects to increase energy efficiency.
Furthermore, in 2022, the first-ever MENA Week was hosted by the UAE Government, represented by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE), the World Green Economy Organization (WGEO), and DEWA, in collaboration with the UNFCCC, which accelerated the momentum towards COP 27.
In the UAE, we do not rest on our laurels. We continue our relentless efforts to achieve carbon neutrality and support the transition to a green economy. We look forward to COP28 in the UAE to make a tangible impact on climate neutrality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, consolidate our positive contribution to climate change, transform challenges into opportunities, and anticipate and shape a brighter future for all humans.
Middle Eastern energy partner NewMed Energy has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Enlight Energy regarding exclusive collaboration for a fixed term on the initiation, development, financing, construction and operation of renewable energy projects in the Middle East and North Africa.
The collaboration entails the development of solar projects, wind projects, energy storage and other relevant renewable energy segments in several target countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia.
As part of the Joint Venture, NewMed will utilise its business connections in the aforementioned target countries, with active involvement from Yossi Abu, CEO of NewMed Energy Management Limited. The Enlight Corporation will provide the joint operations with professional design, development and management services in the interest of promoting the Joint Venture.
In view of the MOU, NewMed intends to convene a general meeting which will include on the agenda a proposed resolution that will allow it to act and make investments in renewable energy projects in an aggregate investment amount of $100 million.
Control during the projects’ construction and operation stages will be held by Enlight. The MOU stipulates provisions with respect to the parties’ rights to appoint board members of the Co-Owned Corporations based on their holding rates and it also stipulates that Abu will serve as Chairman of the Board of the Co-Owned Corporations in the first 24 months.
Under the MOU, it has been agreed that resolutions of the Co-Owned Corporations will be adopted by a majority vote, subject to certain minority interest protections to be granted to NewMed. Provisions have also been specified with respect to the manner of financing of the operations of the Joint Venture and the investments in projects to be made thereunder, based on the relative share of each of the parties.
The term of the parties’ exclusive collaboration will be 3 years as of the date of signing of the detailed agreement. This may, under certain circumstances, be extended up to a term of five years as of the date of signing of the detailed agreement. Following the expiration of the Term of Exclusivity, the collaboration will continue with respect to projects that shall have commenced prior to the expiration date.
UN Sustainable Development Goal 7 aspires to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030. But in Africa, around 600 million people continue to live without access to electricity. Seeking to reach as many of these people as quickly as possible, African governments are signing agreements with foreign firms to deliver off-grid solar products to millions of households.
British firm Bboxx, for example, has an agreement with the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to deliver solar home systems (SHSs) to 10 million citizens by 2024. SHSs consist of one or more panels, usually installed on household roofs, capable of providing up to 300 watts of power. This is sufficient to power laptops, televisions, LED lights, and – in certain models – refrigerators and cooking.
Underpinning this process is the belief that expanded access to off-grid solar can drive economic development by strengthening household income. According to the African Energy Commission, the process will “lift hundreds of millions of people” out of poverty.
Do these claims stand up to interrogation?
Increased income, increased risk
In a recent study, Patrick Lehmann-Grube, an independent researcher, and I reviewed 56 papers that focused on how access to off-grid solar energy impacts household income in Africa. Initially, the available evidence appears to provide strong support, with almost all the papers finding a positive effect.
This was largely based on the finding that SHSs enabled local stalls and kiosks to stay open longer by operating beyond nightfall. The testimony of a Kenyan fruit and vegetable seller is typical. After the addition of a SHS, she reported being able to add “two more hours of trading each day”. Across the studies, additional work hours allowed household income to increase by around US$20–£40 (£17-£33) per month.
Workers’ greater capacity for self-exploitation
Existing studies generally cite working longer hours as a marker of economic progress. Yet this finding is ambiguous since increased income here is achieved through a greater capacity for self-exploitation. Given the physical limits to the length of a working day, these observed increases can only lead to a limited economic gain.
For economic development to be strengthened and sustained, it must be incorporated into a process of increased productivity. This should be achieved by an increasing output per unit of labour time – not simply via people working longer hours or more people working – and supported by an accumulation of capital.
Existing studies tend not to focus on these dimensions, leaving the true economically transformative nature of off-grid solar products unclear. The low energy capacity of SHSs should, nonetheless, caution against any great enthusiasm that they can generate such transformative economic progress.
Short-term gains, long-term losses?
The shift of energy provision via SHSs away from centralised public governance and towards a privatised model has in many instances also shifted the financial burden of maintenance onto local communities. Several studies noted that the maintenance costs for off-grid solar products often surpass what rural households and communities can afford.
Yet most studies focus on the short-term impact, usually within a couple of years of a household or firm gaining access to off-grid solar. Short-term income gains will prove fruitless in the future, however, should communities be unable to assure maintenance of the equipment.
Several studies also documented the recent introduction of a pay-as-you-go model. The model aims to extend low-wattage solar products to income-poor rural African households, who are often unable to afford the full upfront cost. Already, pay-as-you-go solar firms are beginning to push a range of other products to their clients, such as irrigation pumps and appliance leasing.
This strikes a further note of concern, as studies on financial technology (or fin-tech) services have demonstrated their frequent association with rising indebtedness. Indebtedness constrains rather than liberates households, a process hardly conducive to economic development.
Can off-grid solar still drive economic development?
One solution to the limited economic impact of increased access to SHSs would be to focus on the provision of mini grids. Capable of powering entire rural communities or urban suburbs, research demonstrates that they support a far larger range of activities, extending into productive and industrial use.
Another avenue will be through developing domestic capacity in the design and manufacture of off-grid solar power. This carries the potential to generate productive employment and help stimulate a shift towards industrial development.
Existing studies have proved adept at identifying households who appear to have financially benefited from access to off-grid solar through increased income. But they have been less well attuned to the downsides.
Alongside rising indebtedness, these include the more general processes of polarisation, marginalisation and exclusion that inevitably accompany any process of capitalist economic development.
If, as Brazilian economist Celso Furtado once wrote, capitalist development is “a process of reshaping social relations founded on accumulation”, future research would do well to focus on how social relations are being reshaped by off-grid solar expansion – and with what consequences.
Solar Appreciation Day 2022: Here’re Some Unique Use of Solar Technologies Worldwide to Combat Energy Crisis
India’s budget for FY2022-23 clearly highlights the country’s priority to double down for ‘green’ and renewable energy, particularly solar, to combat climate change and meet the emission reduction targets set for 2030.
Moreover, as the Ukraine-Russia war continues, coal and natural gas prices are surging sharply across the globe. With the soaring power bills, several European and Asian countries are seeking alternatives to Russian supplies. And using technologies based on solar energy is a comparative quick fix to the energy crisis.
Meanwhile, Solar Appreciation Day 2022 is here, which is celebrated globally on every second Friday of March. The day has become all the more significant amid the ongoing climate and energy crisis. On this day, here are some unique solar technologies that demonstrate the immense potential of solar technologies to address the needs of the modern world.
Solar trolley invented by a farmer from Haryana
Pradeep Kumar, a farmer from Haryana, has built a mobile solar plant with panels mounted on a trolley that can be moved on demand. The trolley is custom made as per the user’s requirements.
In an interview with The Better India, Pradeep said, “the devices come in two sizes and carry solar panels which provide electricity of 2 HP and 10 HP. The trolley can also be mounted to the back of a tractor and has sturdy wheels that allow it to move over uneven surfaces.”
The cost-effective technology has benefitted over 2000 farmers so far.
Bihar’s floating solar power plant
The Mithila region in North Bihar is called the ‘Land of Ponds’ and is taking complete advantage of its gift. A floating solar plant is set to be commissioned in the region, consisting of 4,004 solar modules. Each module lodged in a pond can generate 505-megawatt peak (MWp) electricity and nearly 2 MW of green and clean energy. The plant can supply electricity to 10,000 people in the state.
The main benefit of a floating solar power plant is that the water cools the solar panels, ensuring their efficiency when temperatures rise, resulting in increased power generation. It also minimises evoporation of freshwater and aids fishery.
This innovation has hit two birds with one stone: producing green energy from solar panels and promoting fish farming underwater.
South Korea’s solar shade
In South Korea, a highway runs between Daejon and Sejong and its entire bike lane on the 32 km stretch is covered with solar roof panels. Not only do they generate sufficient electricity, but they also isolate cyclists from traffic and protect them from the sun.
The two-way bike lane is constructed right in the middle of the road, while there are three other lanes for vehicles to travel on either side. This also obstructs the high beam lights of oncoming cars.
Using the technology, the country can intern produce clean, renewable energy.
Solar-powered desalination technique by Chinese and American researchers
Desalination process is considered to be among the most energy-intensive activities. Now researchers have developed a solar desalination process that can treat contaminated water and generate steam for sterilizing medical instruments without requiring any power source other than sunlight itself.
The design includes a dark material that absorbs the sun’s heat and a thin water layer above a perforated material that sits atop a deep reservoir of salty water such as a tank or a pond. The holes allow for a natural convective circulation between the warmer upper layer of water and the colder reservoir below and draw the salt from the water.
Not only is the solar-powered desalination method efficient but also highly cost-effective.
Saudi Arabia’s goal of sustainable development using solar technology
Dry-climate arid regions are prone to droughts and often face water scarcity. While local food production would have been a distant dream for countries that host mostly deserts, scientists in Saudi Arabia have developed a unique solution using solar technology.
In an experiment, they designed a solar-driven system that could successfully cultivate spinach using water drawn from the air while producing electricity. This proof-of-concept design has demonstrated a sustainable, low-cost strategy to improve food and water security for people living in dry-climate regions.
“Our goal is to create an integrated system of clean energy, water, and food production, especially the water-creation part in our design, which sets us apart from current agrophotovoltaics,” says senior researcher Peng Wang.
Earth has been used as a building material for at least the last 12,000 years. Ethnographic research into earth being used as an element of Aboriginal architecture in Australia suggests its use probably goes back much further.
Traditional construction methods were no match for the earthquake that rocked Morocco on Friday night, an engineering expert says, and the area will continue to see such devastation unless updated building techniques are adopted.
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