Climate Resilience for Energy Transition in Oman

About this report

Country summary

  • The average annual temperature in Oman has increased in the last decade and is likely to continue rising, causing more intense heatwaves. A warmer climate could trigger a notable increase in electricity peak demand, with more intensive use of air conditioning and a potential decrease in the generation efficiency of gas-fired power plants.
  • Shifting precipitation patterns in Oman are posing critical challenges. Already one of the most water-stressed countries in the world, Oman may experience exacerbated freshwater availability under a high-emissions scenario due to a decrease in annual rainfall. This could lead to an increase in energy demand on the further deployment of desalination plants. Concurrently, Oman is also projected to see an increase in heavy rainfall, which may damage its power infrastructure.
  • Oman has directed its efforts towards addressing climate change with an emphasis on clean energy transitions and resilience. Oman Vision 2040 and its National Energy Strategy set a target of scaling up renewables and improving energy efficiency, while the National Strategy for Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change and the second nationally determined contribution (NDC) recognise the need for energy infrastructure resilience against climate change impacts.
  • Further policy measures will be essential to achieve climate-resilient energy transitions in Oman. Completion of the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) and the government’s support for climate risk and impact assessments in the energy sector can act as a starting point. Government efforts to bring climate resilience considerations into the core of decision-making on energy projects through guidelines, regulations and project approval processes will catalyse action on resilience. In addition, its continuous support for the diversification of energy technologies and higher penetration of renewable energy will help the country cope better with climate-related shocks, facilitating its shift to alternative options and limiting energy supply disruption.

Climate hazard assessment

Level of floods, droughts and tropical cyclones in Oman, 2000-2020


Level of warming in Oman, 2000-2020



Oman is characterised by a hot and arid climate. In the period 1980-2013 Oman experienced a mean temperature increase of around 0.4°C per decade. This increase has resulted in a current average annual temperature of between 12°C and 18°C in the country’s mountainous region and around 26°C in most of Oman’s territory, reaching 28°C along the northeast coastline. Although the rate of temperature increase slowed during 2011-2020 to around 0.14°C per decade (partly due to a comparatively cooler summer in 2013 and colder winter in 2014), it maintained its upward trend and lifted the average temperature to 27.8°C. With the rising mean temperature, heatwaves are becoming more intense in Oman. In recent years the country has experienced significant heatwaves. In June 2018 the minimum temperature did not drop below 41.9°C for 24 hours in the coastal city of Quriyat (60 km east of Oman's capital, Muscat). In June 2021 a heatwave continued for almost a month in some locations, reaching the country’s highest recorded temperatures at over 50°C.

Climate projections indicate that Oman will experience higher temperatures in the coming decades, with more frequent heatwaves. Under a high-emissions scenario,1 the mean annual temperature is projected to rise by about 5°C on average from 1990 to 2100, and the number of days experiencing a warm spell (heatwave)2 is projected to increase from fewer than 15 in 1990 to about 280 days on average in 2100. Under a low-emissions scenario,3 the mean temperature rise could be limited to about 1.5°C and the number of days of heatwave to about 85 on average in 2100.

Increasing mean temperatures and the growing number of days with high maximum temperatures in Oman have resulted in the number of cooling degree days (CDD) rising rapidly, by an average of 6.7% per year, over the past two decades, while the number of heating degree days (HDD) has remained very low since 2000. This is triggering a notable increase in peak electricity demand, which is closely related to the intensive use of air conditioning during summer (May-July). Peak electricity demand increased from 6 060 MW in 2015 to 7 081 MW in 2021, an average annual growth rate of about 3%, and it is projected to continue rising at around 4% per year until 2027. The planned increase in the installed capacity of solar and wind power plants and improvements in the energy efficiency of air conditioners and government buildings will help Oman respond to the rising peak demand in summer.

Temperature in Oman, 2000-2020


Cooling degree days in Oman, 2000-2020


Heating degree days in Oman, 2000-2020


The projected rise in temperatures and more frequent and intense heatwaves could have negative impacts on gas-fired power plants, which accounted for 97% of electricity generation in Oman as of 2020. The performance of natural gas combined-cycle power plants depends on the air mass flow entering the gas turbine compressor, which is affected by air density and ambient temperature. A continuous increase in ambient temperature may reduce the electricity generation capacity of those power plants unless additional cooling technologies are added.

Climate projections show that around three-quarters of existing gas-fired power plants in Oman are likely to be exposed to over 2°C of warming in a low-emissions scenario (Below 2°C) and over 5°C in a high-emissions scenario (Above 4°C) during 2080-2100, compared with the pre-industrial period.4 If GHG emissions are not mitigated, over 80% of Oman’s gas-fired power plants could experience at least 60 more days with a maximum temperature above 35°C. This share is almost double the world average, given that less than 40% of gas-fired power plants globally are projected to see the same level of increase.

Gas power plants in Oman exposed to a hotter climate by climate scenario, 2021-2100


Gas power plants in Oman exposed to a hotter climate by climate scenario, 2021-2100



Low rainfall, combined with limited natural freshwater resources, has made Oman one of the most water-stressed countries in the world. Oman has less than 1 000 m3 of freshwater per capita per year, which is significantly less than the world average of around 5 500 m3.5 In recent decades the amount of annual rainfall has decreased, adding more stress to freshwater availability. In 2022 rainfall fell to an annual average of just 76.44 mm, one-sixteenth of the global average. It made Oman the country with the tenth lowest average rainfall in the world that year.

Future impacts of climate change may aggravate freshwater availability in Oman. Although there could be a slight increase of about 10 mm per year around the middle of the 21st century under a low-emissions scenario,6 a high-emissions scenario7 projects a decrease in annual average rainfall in most areas of up to 20 mm per year by 2061-2080. In addition, climate projections show that the year-to-year variability in rainfall patterns is likely to increase.

Diminishing precipitation in the long term could lead to an increase in energy demand. To cope with the reduction in rain-fed water sources and the decline in groundwater recharge, Oman has expanded water supply from desalination plants. Water supply from these sources grew significantly from 146 million m3 in 2010 to 315 million m3 in 2018. Currently nearly 100 desalination plants are operational in Oman, and desalinated sea water and brackish water account for 15% of its annual water supply8 and over 80% of its potable water supply. Given that desalination is more energy-intensive than traditional water supply options, requiring up to almost 100 kWh per m3 of water, greater reliance on desalinated water could add strains to the energy sector unless there are significant improvements in energy efficiency.

Despite the overall decrease in annual mean precipitation, Oman is also experiencing more frequent flooding. In May 2020 heavy rainfall damaged energy infrastructure and disrupted the power supply in Salalah. Again, in May 2021 torrential rainfall caused flooding and prompted power cuts for several hours in certain towns in the Al Dakhliya and Al Batinah regions.

The increased frequency of heavy rainfall with a risk of flash flooding may affect gas-fired power plants. Although they are generally equipped with flood protection structures that work in most cases, severe floods could prompt disruption, including pre-emptive shutdown. Climate projections show that almost all gas-fired power plants in Oman will see an increase of more than 10% in one-day maximum precipitation during 2080-2100, even in a low-emissions scenario (Below 2°C). If emissions are not mitigated (Above 4°C), all plants could see an increase of over 40% in one-day maximum precipitation. The level of the increase is particularly notable given that only around 10% of gas-fired power plants around the world would experience an increase of over 40% in one-day maximum precipitation under the same scenario. Therefore, resilience measures against intense rainfall events and flash floods would become more important for the operation and maintenance of gas-fired power plants in Oman.

Gas power plants in Oman exposed to a wetter climate by climate scenario, 2021-2100


Sea level rise

Low-lying coastal areas are vulnerable to sea level rise. This could trigger saltwater intrusion9 and lead to a decrease in freshwater availability in coastal areas, where the majority of irrigated land (56%) is located. Indeed, by the middle of the 21st century 64% of cultivated land in the southern Al Batinah region will be unfit for groundwater irrigation owing to seawater intrusion into the Jamma aquifer from sea level rise. This could increase demand for desalination, which is generally more energy-intensive than other water supply options.

Tropical cyclones

Tropical cyclones and storms10 from the northern Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea have increased in frequency and intensity. These storms usually occur during the pre-monsoon period in May and June, and during the post-monsoon period in October and November. In recent years, the areas at risk have increased almost tenfold in the Muscat area, while Al Wusta is expected to be the region most vulnerable to tropical cyclones in the future.

The increase in tropical cyclones and storms in Oman could become a concern for the resilience of energy supply infrastructure. In 2021 tropical cyclone Shaheen hit Oman’s northern coast, prompting floods and landslides. It damaged electricity substations, poles and transmission and distribution lines and caused power cuts to around 120 000 customers in the governorates of Muscat and Al Batinah. Restoration of electricity services took up to 192 hours in South Al Batinah and 384 hours in North Al Batinah. In addition, oil and LNG shipping was also suspended at several ports, including Port Sultan Qaboos, A'Suwaiq and Shinas, owing to tropical cyclone Shaheen. The government activated its Emergency Response Plan to prevent interruptions to oil and LNG supply.

Policy readiness for climate resilience

Oman has directed its efforts to address climate change through diverse public policies, with an emphasis on clean energy transitions. One of the main policies that sets out the future path is the Oman Vision 2040. It focuses on four objectives: a society of creative individuals; a competitive economy; responsible state agencies; and an environment with sustainable components. Under the fourth pillar, it establishes a vision of a gradual transition to a low-carbon economy, putting the development of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency actions at the centre of its commitments. It sets a target of renewable energy consumption from 0% in 2015 to 20% by 2030 and 35-39% by 2040. Oman's National Energy Strategy, published in 2020, shows a more concrete plan for energy transitions, with a target of 20% renewables in total electricity generation and 63% efficiency at gas-fired plants by 2027 (from 55% in 2020).

This is further developed into Oman’s National Strategy for an Orderly Transition to Net Zero, which aims to reach net zero by 2050 based on five principles: environmental sustainability; minimised energy system costs; optimisation of economic impacts; social implications; and security of supply. Electrification, energy efficiency improvement, transition to EVs and the deployment of renewable power generation are identified as key priority levers.

The planned increase in the share of renewables in power generation (from 0% in 2015 to 20% by 2030 and 35-39% by 2040) would require more attention being given to climate impacts, since renewables tend to be more sensitive to climate and weather conditions than gas-fired power plants.11 Solar PV generation relies on irradiance, which is determined by climate factors such as season, weather, clouds, water vapour, fires, temperature and daylight hours, while wind power plants are largely affected by wind speed and temperature. The projected increase in temperature and heatwaves could decrease the generation efficiency of solar PV and wind power plants. Increasing frequency of tropical cyclones may lead to physical damage to solar PV and wind turbines, and automatic shutdown of wind power plants. Climate risk and impact assessments from the early stage of project planning, and the adoption of more resilient technologies and designs, will help renewable energy penetration to be resilient and to maximise its contribution to energy security and adaptation.

As a country with high levels of vulnerability to several consequences of climate change, Oman has made notable progress in climate change adaptation and resilience. Oman approved its National Strategy for Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change in April 2019, focusing its vision on three themes, one of which is climate adaptation.12 Within this theme, Oman has identified five key vulnerable sectors to focus on: water resources; marine biodiversity; agriculture and fisheries; urban areas; and tourism, infrastructure and public health. Although the energy sector is not explicitly addressed through this, it is covered within the urban areas and infrastructure sector, which considers the impacts of flooding on infrastructure in urban areas, including electricity supply.

Advancing the National Strategy for Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change, Oman developed a National Spatial Strategy 2020-2040 to anticipate the impact of climate change on urban areas and infrastructure, and to incorporate adaptation and mitigation measures into new developments to ensure adequate response to climate change. The strategy foresees a national framework to guide Oman’s sustainable development and facilitate the implementation of the Oman Vision 2040. It includes seven categories, the seventh pillar being about building an efficient infrastructure system and making sustainable use of resources for the energy transition to achieve sustainable and resilient growth. Using this approach, Oman aims to identify its needs for renewable energy (solar plants and onshore and offshore wind farms), energy storage and electricity transmission, while improving the stability and flexibility of its energy supply.13

Reflecting the increasing importance of climate change adaptation to better manage climate risks, Oman assessed the barriers to and gaps in its adaptation objectives in its second nationally determined contribution in 2021. The barriers and gaps include limitations on the data, information and knowledge available to address vulnerability; limited experience with methods and tools to support climate risk-informed decision-making in the critical sectors; insufficient national budgets to address the scope and magnitude of climate change impacts effectively; and insufficient national regulatory frameworks in place to support effective adaptation planning.

To address the gaps, Oman has been preparing its National Adaptation Plan (NAP). This aims to integrate adaptation into the country's development planning for low-carbon and climate-resilient development priorities, projects and transition pathways. It will identify the medium- and long-term climate adaptation needs, strategies and programmes that need to be developed and implemented. The development of Oman's NAP is still in progress, with support from international organisations, including the Green Climate Fund’s report, Enhancing the national adaptation plan process for the Sultanate of Oman, published in late December 2022.

In addition to the establishment of the NAP, further policy measures could also enhance the climate resilience of the energy sector in Oman. Measures to improve the dissemination of climate data and to develop useful tools for climate risk and impact assessment in the energy sector can be the first step. Despite notable progress in climate data and projections in recent decades, energy suppliers and consumers continue to have difficulty using them in their planning, due to the limited accessibility of downscaled data. Even when energy suppliers and consumers have access to such information, it remains challenging to link the complex probabilistic information to industry-specific applications. Government support to enhance access to more accurate climate information and data translation (e.g. providing assessment tools and capacity building programmes) would help address the knowledge gap.

Government efforts to bring climate resilience considerations into the core of decision-making on energy projects, by integrating them into guidelines, regulations and project approval processes, could catalyse action on resilience. For instance, the government can recommend or mandate that energy project developers: assess climate risks and impacts from the early stage of project planning; adopt more resilient technologies (e.g. adopt dry or hybrid cooling technologies for gas power plants in areas of water scarcity; use more energy-efficient technologies for desalination); and enhance the resilience of power plants and grids in the face of the physical impacts of climate-related disasters (e.g. stronger flood protection measures in flood-prone areas).

The government’s continuing efforts to diversify Oman’s range of energy technologies by increasing renewable energy penetration can also significantly enhance climate resilience. A diversified energy system tends to cope better with climate-related shocks than a system that is heavily reliant on a single energy technology. For instance, the penetration of wind and solar generators, which generally have low water requirements, can make a power system more resilient against droughts than a system dominated by traditional thermal power plants. Such resilience measures led by the government can facilitate action by energy suppliers and consumers, sending strong signals to investors.

This work was supported by the Clean Energy Transitions Programme, the IEA’s flagship initiative to transform the world’s energy system to achieve a secure and sustainable future for all. In particular, this publication was produced with the financial assistance of the Government of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

  1. Based on the Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 scenario. RCPs are greenhouse gas concentration trajectories adopted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

  2. A “warm spell” day is a day when the maximum temperature, together with that of at least the six previous consecutive days, exceeds the 90th percentile threshold for that time of the year.

  3. Based on the RCP 2.6 scenario.

  4. This study assessed the level of exposure to climate hazards of the existing installed capacity in Oman, using the IPCC climate scenarios (SSP1-2.6, SSP2-4.5, SSP3-7.0 and SSP5-8.5) and its indicators. SSP = Shared Socioeconomic Pathway.

  5. As of 2019.

  6. Based on the RCP 2.6 scenario.

  7. Based on the RCP 8.5 scenario.

  8. Groundwater and surface water account for 78% and 6% respectively.

  9. Especially when it is combined with storm surges and excessive groundwater pumping.

  10. Storm indicates any disturbed state of the atmosphere, strongly implying destructive and unpleasant weather. Storms range in scale. Tropical cyclone is the general term for a strong, cyclonic-scale disturbance that originates over tropical oceans. In this article, we use these general terms, tropical cyclones and storms, but they can be divided into different categories in detail. A tropical storm is a tropical cyclone with one-minute average surface winds between 18 and 32 m/s. Beyond 32 m/s, a tropical cyclone is called a hurricane, typhoon or cyclone depending on the geographic location. Hurricanes refer to the high-intensity cyclones that form in the south Atlantic, central North Pacific, and eastern North Pacific; typhoons in the northwest Pacific; and the more general term cyclone in the South Pacific and Indian ocean.

  11. Although the performance of gas-fired combined-cycle power plants could be affected by high temperatures, as mentioned above.

  12. The themes included in the National Strategy for Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change are: i) the development of climate science, including the analysis of historical trends and projections, and the development of climate information; ii) vulnerability and adaptation in order to prepare Oman's priority sectors for its adaptation strategy; iii) sustainable development.

  13. As part of its National Spatial Strategy, Oman details the planning of a 400 kV transmission project connecting the northern and southern parts of the country, building transmission lines between Nazwa (north), Hayma (centre) and Duqm (centre-east) where a new solar power plant would be located, and then terminating at Khaluf. It also identifies three proposed electricity interconnection projects, two of which would be located between the south and centre of the country, and one in the northern part of Oman.