The upcoming windfarm at Oman’s Harweel is a harbinger of good times for the Sultanate’s environment.
The 25 turbines each of 2.0-3.2 MW capacity will go about their job without exacerbating global warming. Developed jointly by the state-owned Rural Areas Electricity Company (Raeco) and Masdar, the windfarm is expected to be operational this year.
The world’s largest solar plant at Miraah (used to power oil extraction) is another bold attempt at exploiting renewable energy. The Miraah project is estimated to save 5.6 trillion BTUs of natural gas annually, which could be used to provide residential electricity to 209,000 people in Oman.
The Harweel and Miraah projects are but just two of the several initiatives in the Sultanate that reflect the government’s strategic resolve to diversify its energy portfolio and protect its environment.
With the government under His Majesty the Sultan prioritising environmental protection, the Sultanate has achieved much in terms of formulating strategic policy frameworks, and implementing effective environmental laws and programmes. It has ratified crucial international conventions on climate change and environmental conservation. The country formulated a National Strategy for Protecting the Omani Environment that advocates sustainable use of resources, way back in 1986.
Energy conservation and environmental protection feature prominently in the Sultanate’s development strategy. Its traditional buildings are noted for their eco-friendly and energy efficient construction methods, including the use of compressed mud blocks, mud mortar and plaster, the water circulation systems and effective shading.
It’s in this context that the Research Council of Oman has designed the Eco House Design competition — modelled on the US Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon — encouraging the youth to connect with this legacy. It is aimed at taking the country to the next level of green-living, by developing the skills of Oman’s youth in designing and building innovative energy-saving, eco-friendly houses, and promoting increased application of renewable energy and advanced technology along with creating a heightened awareness of sustainable development.