Oman could be renewable energy powerhouse says UK expert

Oman has the potential to become a leading transporter of energy based on renewable sources, according to David Rooney, the director of sustainable energy research at the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Queen's University Belfast. Rooney was giving a speech at an event about renewable energy and biofuels spearheaded by the Independent Learning Centre at SQU when he made the claim.

“Over the last two hundred years our energy supply has been continually evolving," said Rooney. "In 1817 the world was mainly fuelled by biomass, by 1917 it was coal, and in 2017 it is oil and gas. However, we have now clearly entered the next evolution of our energy supply, the age of diversification and renewables. History has shown that the drivers for this change are not simply economic. An example being the UK’s Clean Air Act (1956) which was in response to the great London smog in 1952. Sixty years later, cities such as Paris and Mexico have announced that they will ban diesel cars from their centres by 2025. Therefore, the driver for change it is a complex construct of energy security, global awareness, and our desire for a cleaner environment."

While Rooney admits that there will always be a need for energy, he says that the source must come from sea or land sources. Crude is seen as damaging and may soon to be obsolete, which is why he encourages other countries to start tapping into renewables.

“Simple calculations show that Oman would have sufficient solar energy to not only power its own needs but all of the UK as well," he said. "While solar would be the most obvious target for a national renewable energy solution, research carried out within Sultan Qaboos University has shown that there is a role for all other forms of renewable energies in Oman including wind, marine, and biomass."

The UK has been an ally of Oman for many years. Both countries have close military ties, and, in September 2001, the UK and Oman conducted a joint military exercise, which saw the largest deployment of UK forces since the Suez Crisis. In 2010, Queen Elizabeth II visited Oman to commemorate the country's 40th National Day, making it her second visit to the sultanate, the first being in 1979.

Experts say that Oman's initiative to tap into renewables was an influence of the country's long-time partner. Apart from solar and wind turbines, the UK is also an advocate of tidal energy, building the world's first large-scale tidal energy farm in Scotland in 2016.

As an industrialised nation, the UK has always had strong dependence on oil. FXCM states that oil has been an important factor in the strength of the UK economy since the 60s when the country began to develop strategic reserves found in the North Sea. If the Peak Oil phenomenon is indeed true, the UK can retain its status as a leading industrialised nation if the country can produce natural energy equal to its current power consumption. In 2014, the UK’s Department of Energy & Climate Change recorded that energy use in the UK stood at 2,249 TWh or 193.4 million tonnes of equivalent oil.

With tremendous amounts of natural resources to power renewable energy, and help from the UK, experts agree that Oman can become a world leader in green power.

Currently, Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) is making changes throughout the country by installing thousands of solar panels in order to power its headquarters. The initiative is foreseen to save over 3.1 million m3 of gas per year, which is enough to power over 1,000 homes.

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