High efficiency power plants that are increasingly supplanting older open-cycle gas turbine based power generation, are helping reduce the consumption of valuable natural gas as a fuel resource in Oman's electricity sector, according to Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP), the nation's sole off-taker of power and associated water output. In 2015, total gas consumption in the Main Interconnected System (MIS), covering much of the northern half of the Sultanate, was around 7.4 billion standard cubic metres (sm3), versus 7.1 billion sm3 consumed in 2014. Although the increase in gas consumption amounted to around 4 per cent, the amount of electricity delivered during this period rose a significant 14 per cent -- a jump that state-owned OPWP attributes to the growing energy efficiency of the Sultanate's power sector.
"Through the introduction of new more efficient power plants, OPWP has steadily improved system efficiency and the utilization of gas," the power procurer said. "Over the past six years, while annual energy delivered has increased by 10 per cent per year, fuel efficiency improvement has limited the gas consumption increase to 6 per cent per year," it stated in its newly released 2015 Annual Report.
Significantly, gas consumption per unit of power generation has plummeted a hefty 29 per cent since 2009, according to OPWP. From a high of 343 cubic metres of gas per megawatt-hour of electricity produced in 2010, consumption fell to 291 cubic metres in 2014. The decrease was the steepest in 2015, with gas consumption declined to 267 cubic metres per megawatt-hour of electricity, entailing a decrease of 8 per cent.
The significant savings in gas consumption bode well for an industry that accounts for a sizable chunk of Oman's total domestic gas production. With power demand galloping at the rate of around 10 per cent annually, energy efficiency is imperative if gas supply is to be sustained in the face of competing demands for this valuable resource from the petrochemicals and industrial sectors, it is pointed out.
Peak power demand in the MIS soared from 3,425 megawatts (MW) in 2009 to 5,565 MW in 2015 at an average annual growth rate of about 8.4 per cent, according to OPWP. In the Salalah System, the average annual growth rate was 8.9 per cent during this period. The increase was 13 per cent in 2015 versus 2014. Key growth drivers include population growth, household formation, general economic development and infrastructure expansion, OPWP stated.