The pilot ‘Solar into Schools’ project is part of Shell Oman’s 5th Gift to the Nation, announced along with the revamp of the Shell Intilaaqah Oman programme in 2015, and involves the installation of solar panels into 22 public schools across the Sultanate over the next few years.

Shell Intilaaqah will work closely with the solar SMEs competing for the contracts with Shell, to deliver a range of business support from enterprise development workshops to more specialised tendering modules. This will complement the technical training on the essentials of solar power that the SMEs have already received from Shell.

Last year, a group of aspiring Omani entrepreneurs interested in developing their own solar businesses attended a training course on the fundamentals of solar photovoltaic (PV) technology that was hosted by Shell Development Oman and delivered by internationally recognised solar expert, Dr Sean White. The intensive five-day training provided participants with the fundamentals they need to design, install, and operate PV systems safely. The training helped equip Omani solar SMEs with the knowledge and skills they need for the next phase of Shell’s ‘Solar into Schools’ project, or other solar projects they are pursuing.

Already, Shell Development Oman has awarded three contracts to two Omani solar SMEs to carry out installations: Fajwa for Solar Energy Solutions Systems LLC will install solar panels into the Um Al Fathel girls’ public school in Nizwa, while solar power into Al Buraimi and Khawala bint Hakim School, a girls’ public school in Salalah, will be delivered by Hussam Technology Company LLC. These first three sites are expected to be operational by the middle of this year.

Speaking about the pilot’s procurement process, Chris Breeze, Shell Country Chairman in Oman, said, “We at Shell are very pleased to support Oman’s budding solar ecosystem through the ‘Solar into Schools’ initiative. Upon completion of the solar PV training course, the project tender was released for the Omani SMEs in the market to compete. A total of seven participated with their bids, out of which two have been identified and selected for the contract award for the pilot stage of the project.

“Shell is committed to enterprise development in Oman and to help the country meet its growing energy needs in a responsible and sustainable way.”

Commenting on the support which will be provided to the solar SMEs by Shell Intilaaqah Oman, Najwa Alkindi, Executive Director, Shell Intilaaqah Oman, said, “At Intilaaqah, we aim to offer our support to solar SMEs in order to amplify the impact we add to entrepreneurs, particularly those who become part of Shell’s supply chain.

“We know that sometimes, even if the technical skills are very high, SMEs may be facing challenges with managing their businesses, and that is where Intilaaqah can offer our support.”

Alongside the ‘Solar into Schools’ project, Shell Intilaaqah Oman was itself revamped and relaunched as part of Shell Oman’s 5th Gift to the Nation. The new look Shell Intilaaqah programme aims to support all stages of entrepreneurship from creating an innovative business idea to supporting the growth of new start-ups. It involves five stages of modular training, counselling and tailored support for the different stages of entrepreneurship.

The programme will focus on the development of entrepreneurs and businesses with high growth potential, and will develop several strategic partnerships with funders and other partners who can support growing enterprises through, for example, business incubation and market linkages.

Intilaaqah will also introduce a world-class award scheme for business start-ups to foster and encourage an innovation culture in the SME sector across Oman.