Muscat is planning to issue a tender for the country’s first solar power project before the end of 2010.

A decision has not yet been made on the location of the plant, but a number of potential sites have been identified, according to Sohail Barkatali, a Dubai-based partner at US law firm Chadbourne & Parke, the legal adviser to the government on the project. 

The plant could be as large as 250MW, depending on the technology used.

“We have just submitted the first draft of the strategy report [to the government],” said Barkatali, speaking at MEED’s Middle East Project Finance 2010 conference in Bahrain on 16 February.

“If the report is accepted, then it is likely that a request for proposals will be out in the last quarter of this year.”

The plant is likely to be privately financed, continuing Oman’s model of developing independent power production.

“All of Oman’s power projects have been privately funded to date,” said Barkatali. “We hope this will be the same.”

The group of advisers, along with Chadbourne & Parke, includes Australia’s WorleyParsons as technical adviser on the project and Macquarie Group, also of Australia, as financial adviser.

Governments in the region are increasingly focusing on solar and wind power projects in an effort to develop renewable energy.

In June 2009, Abu Dhabi completed work on a 10MW solar power plant for the carbon-neutral Masdar City. It was developed at a cost of $50m and is the largest solar grid in the Middle East and North Africa. It will supply the city with 17,500MW-hours of electricity a year.

Bahrain is also planning to develop a 5MW solar power project and could issue tenders for the scheme in mid 2010 (MEED 7:9:09).