Oman mulls green hydrogen and utility scale solar for Sohar Port

Published: 9 February 2020 - 5:16 a.m.
By: Baset Asaba

Sohar Port and Freezone says it is offering developers the opportunity to invest in utility scale solar farms that will generate competitively priced electricity for various industrial and petrochemical plants operating within the port.

Equally promising is the opportunity for investors to produce green hydrogen, which can be used by industries that currently depend on valuable natural gas as a source of hydrogen for their requirements.

Additionally, green hydrogen can be used as a source of calorific energy, thus supplanting electricity generated from natural gas.

Either application effectively frees up natural gas, which can then be used in petrochemical and other value-add industries, thereby helping unlock further value from Omans hydrocarbon resources, reported Oman Obsever.

While large-scale solar power and green hydrogen are more long-term ambitions of the port, modest-scale versions are envisaged in the short-term to add to the ports competitive appeal, according to Mark Geilenkirchen, CEO.

Whenever a new company comes to the free zone, we offer them the possibility to buy solar electricity via (one of the developers), so the new investors have access to cheaper solar electricity, but also land in the free zone, said Geilenkirchen.

Last month, Sohar Port formalised a pact with Qabas, the newly established renewable energy arm of Oman Shell, to invest in solar farms in the free zone. The first customer to benefit from this initiative is a ferrochrome plant that is already in operation in the free zone.

In addition to Qabas, a subsidiary of the State General Reserve Fund (SGRF) the largest sovereign wealth fund of the Sultanate of Oman is also exploring plans to invest in renewables-based capacity in Sohar Port and Free Zone.

Qabas has been allowed to offer electricity to customers in the free zone, but we will be open to other players in the future, said the CEO.

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