H.E. Eng. Salim bin Nasser Al-Aufi, the Minister of Energy and Minerals, Sultanate of Oman, recently inaugurated the 17-megawatt peak (MWp) solar photovoltaic (PV) farm producing green energy to power the Sharqiyah Desalination Plant in the city of Sur in Oman.
With an annual capacity of over 32,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of green electricity, it is the largest solar system for a desalination plant in Oman and will cover 100% of the desalination plant’s consumption over the daylight period.
Developed by Veolia in partnership with TotalEnergies, the plant will help cut about 27,200 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. This is the equivalent of the emissions generated by approximately 6,000 internal combustion engine-powered vehicles over the same period.
The solar plant’s construction began in August last year, while testing was conducted from 30 March 2023 to 15 April 2023.
Commercial operation was achieved on 16 April 2023, and the lease agreement for the solar farm operation is until 31 March 2036.
At the event, H.E. Eng. Salim bin Nasser Al-Aufi, the Minister of Energy and Minerals, Sultanate of Oman, said: “I am glad to witness the official inauguration of this crucial solar photovoltaic facility at the Sharqiyah Desalination Plant, which serves over 600,000 inhabitants of the Sharqiyah region with clean drinking water. The solar plant aligns well with global efforts towards energy transition for a net-zero world. It will also be one of the significant contributors to water security in Oman and our National Energy Strategy, which aims to derive 30% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030—one of the objectives of Oman Vision 2040. I commend Veolia, its partners, and everyone involved in the development of this plant for their unwavering commitment and hard work in bringing this project to fruition.”
Philippe Bourdeaux, Vice President Africa, Near & Middle East of Veolia, said: “We are delighted to see that our solar project has started serving its mission. This achievement would not have been possible without the support of the leadership in the Sultanate of Oman, particularly the Ministry of Energy and Minerals. We express our gratitude to them and our private sector partners for helping us join local efforts towards energy transition and decarbonization. Veolia aims to be the world leader in ecological transformation. Water and renewable energy are therefore areas of major interest for the Group, and given the mounting issues related to climate change, we have developed real expertise in reducing carbon emissions in our operations and projects. In this journey, renewables play an important role in providing green energy while also ensuring an uninterrupted supply of vital resources for human consumption such as drinking water.”
In attendance at the inauguration were Veolia’s and Total Energies’ senior management and Group’s partners, including government officials and representatives of the Sharqiyah Desalination Company SAOG (SDC) and the Nama Power and Water Procurement Company (NPWP).
Commenting on the occasion, Denis Le Maout, Chairman of the Board of Sharqiyah Desalination Company SAOG, said: “With desalination capacity of 131,837 cubic metres per day (m3/day), producing over 400 million m3 of water since 2007, our desalination plant in Sur is among the most important projects in the Sultanate and one of the lifelines for delivering drinking water for local communities, while reducing the extraction of already scarce freshwater resources. As the conventional desalination process comes at a heavy price for both the environment and the economy, our efforts have been to tap the potential of innovative technologies, including renewable energy to positively impact the environment, create economic opportunities and contribute to the community’s overall welfare.”
For his part, Ahmed bin Salim Al-Abari, the acting CEO of Nama for Power and Water Procurement Company (PWP), stated that “NPWP is collaborating with water desalination plants to support them in transitioning to the use of renewable energy for desalination purposes. This effort aligns with Oman’s objectives to reach 30% of electricity generation from renewable sources by 2030 and 40% by 2040. NPWP congratulate Sharqiyah Desalination Company for the inauguration of the solar farm which will ensure water supply to North and South Al Sharqiyah Governates using renewable energy.”