MUSCAT: Oman is looking to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels for electricity generation by building a 50MW wind-based power plant in Dhofar.

Rural Area Electricity Co (Raeco) and Abu Dhabi Future Energy Co (Masdar) will sign an agreement on October 22 to build the sultanate’s first wind energy power project, which is estimated to cost US$200mn.

Located at Harweel and spread over 200,000 sq m, the project will be implemented by Masdar.

Eng Hamed al Magdheri, CEO of Raeco, provided details of the project at a press conference on Sunday.

Local contractors and SMEs will play a big role in the project, which is expected to be completed within 24 months and operational early in 2017. The project’s daily production is estimated to be 1,200MWh.

Magdheri said, “Harweel was selected for the project, which will be the first of its kind in the GCC, after a preliminary study. The project will later be linked to the 132kV transmission main network in Dhofar.”

Magdheri asserted that the project will bring enormous economic benefits. “The 50MW

capacity of the plant is enough to meet 50 per cent of Dhofar’s power needs in winter. It will also contribute significantly to reducing the use of traditional fuels. Thus the region’s industries stand to benefit.”

He added that the project site was approved after consultations with government agencies and because the area is part of an oil concession, PDO approvals were also obtained.

Magdheri said that power generation in Oman is subsided by up to 20 to 30 per cent in the case of gas-fuelled plants and 80 per cent in diesel-based ones. He said that Raeco would explore the possibility of setting up more renewable energy projects, which will help save on the government’s subsidy bill. “Around 25 per cent of Raeco’s power generation capacity will be contributed by renewable energy sources in the future. We expect to launch a number of solar and wind energy projects over the next three years.”

“Capital expenditure for renewable energy projects is high but they will be cheap to operate by replacing traditional fuels,” he added.