Petroleum Development Oman’s (PDO) landmark 100-megawatt Amin Photovoltaic Power Plant has now achieved a key milestone with the start of commercial operations, having been successfully commissioned three months ahead of schedule and passing the acceptance test procedures. The Independent Power Producer (IPP) renewable energy project, located near Nimr which lies approximately 300km northeast of Salalah, is providing power to PDO’s Interior operations as one of the world’s first utility-scale solar projects to have an oil and gas company as the sole buyer of electricity.
The contract to develop, finance, build, operate and maintain the photovoltaic (PV) plant was awarded in January 2019 to Amin Renewable Energy Company S.A.O.C, a special purpose company founded and developed by the Marubeni Corporation (Japan) as the lead founder, Oman Gas Company S.A.O.C, Bahwan Renewable Energy Company LLC of Oman, Nebras Power QPSC (Qatar) and financed by Bank Muscat SAOG. The innovative project attracted competitive tenders from highly reputed global developers in the renewable energy industry.
Amin IPP is also the first utility-scale PV power plant in Oman and has one of world’s lowest tariff at the time of award for such a project, which spans 23 years.
The installation was built and commissioned in record time, just under 12 months after signing the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract, providing initial power into PDOs electrical grid in March 2020. PDO Managing Director Raoul Restucci said “Solar intensity in Oman provides an attractive platform to enable a lower carbon and more sustainable future and this flagship project is another building block in support of PDO’s continued transition to a fully-fledged energy company. The Amin power plant represents an excellent example of Oman’s outstanding potential in renewable energy.
Restucci added, “It is also a source of pride that Omani goods and services represented around a quarter of total project construction costs including site establishment, and local manufacturing and material supply and I am confident that the sector will continue to expand in Oman”.
He furthered, “Indeed, we look forward to continuing to make further progress in our plans to gradually increase the utilisation of renewable resources in our activities and are currently in the process of evaluating a number of exciting opportunities including wind power installations in our southern locations.”
The US$94 million facility in the south of the Sultanate covers an area of 4km2 and produces up to 100 megawatts of electricity directly from sunlight through solar panels. The generated energy is sufficient to power 15,000 homes and could result in an annual CO2 emission reduction of more than 225,000 tonnes – the equivalent to taking 23,000 cars off the road.
President and CEO of Marubeni Middle East and Africa Power Limited Shunsuke Takahashi said: “This very important and first utility-scale PV Solar project in Oman is a cornerstone to developing a more renewable-based infrastructure in the country and Marubeni is very proud of being able to contribute to this strategic initiative together with our shareholding partners and PDO. The Amin project further underlines Marubeni’s strong desire to further expand its business activities in the power sector.”
Nebras Power CEO Khalid M. Jolo lauded the commercial operation of the facility saying, “The successful completion and inauguration of Amin IPP signifies the realisation of a commitment to deliver clean and reliable energy to the Sultanate of Oman that will serve as a dedicated source of power and further demonstrates the significant contribution and benefits of renewable energy.”
The environmentally beneficial project by using the electricity generated from solar power as an alternative to natural gas to support PDO operations is expected to provide an equivalent fuel saving of 95.5 million m3 of gas annually. The project has also successfully secured European Union carbon credit registration, helping to facilitate the implementation of PDO’s ambitious energy transition plans and pave the way for other opportunities to offset carbon dioxide emissions.
Reflecting the Sultanate’s ambitions to be at the forefront of the latest renewable energy developments, state-of-the-art technology has been utilised in the project including bifacial photovoltaic modules, which are the latest proven technology in the PV industry, and backtracking facilities to maximise the energy production over time.