Global endeavours towards achieving sustainable development and ecological balance necessitate a focus on utilising renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind energy, to produce and store electrical power. This drive is one of the main factors associated with the establishment of a hybrid power plant by the Sustainable Energy Research Centre at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU).
According to a statement, the station is considered an important project as it seeks to conduct experiments related to energy security and efficiency, while also minimising costs and reducing environmentally harmful emissions.
‘The hybrid power plant is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and devices, including a smart micro-grid system, electrochemical hydrogen fuel cells that operate through a methanol fuel reformer, and a deionised water system, in addition to providing cutting-edge laboratories for electrochemical experimentations and a methanol storage room,’ read the statement.
The plant also includes a diesel generator, a wind turbine, and both ground-mounted and rooftop photovoltaic systems, while continuing efforts are being made to ensure the plant has the necessary equipment to achieve its primary objectives.
The Sustainable Energy Research Centre remains at the forefront of research into the generation of electricity through renewable energy sources in place of diesel fuel, especially in rural areas.
Current work at the plant encompasses a project that includes 5kW hydrogen fuel cell equipped with methanol reformer, a 6kW diesel generator, a 5kW rooftop PV system, and 15kWh lithium-ion storage batteries. In addition, the smart energy management system connects the integrated resources to the university’s distribution grid or can be operated as an isolated microgrid system that feeds the local loads in the plant. The project generally focuses on using methanol to generate electricity in an economical and eco-friendly way due to the low levels of harmful emissions.
‘Following the conclusion of the first two phases of the plant’s construction, efforts have been geared first towards the evaluation of utilising methanol to generate electricity for rural and remote areas. The research team is working to integrate various energy sources to effectively produce electricity through the utilisation of renewable energy resources.’
The construction of the hybrid plant began in 2017 with a research project entitled ‘Studying the Performance and Monitoring of Solar Photovoltaic Energy’ conducted by a research team led by SQU’s Dr Rashid al Abri and Dr AmerSaif al Hinai.