Jor­dan is pow­er­ing a ma­jor shift to clean en­ergy The gov­ern­ment is rac­ing to create room for re­new­ables as sec­tor growth out­paces en­ergy in­fra­struc­ture

Arab News - - BUSINESS - OLIVIA CUTH­BERT

Plans are in place for up to 2,000 megawatts (MW) in wind and so­lar projects by the end of the decade, but with the grid at ca­pac­ity, the next wave of de­vel­op­ments is on hold.

“There is big de­mand from in­vestors to build re­new­able plants, but un­for­tu­nately the grid lim­i­ta­tion doesn’t al­low it,” said Walid Shahin, di­rec­tor of the Na­tional En­ergy Re­search Cen­ter in Jor­dan.

“The sec­tor has grown very fast, par­tic­u­larly in the past two years, but now things are slow­ing down a bit be­cause of this lim­i­ta­tion.”

A new Green Cor­ri­dor project, due to be­gin op­er­a­tion in 2018, will trans­fer power gen­er­ated in south Jor­dan to elec­tric­ity con­sump­tion cen­ters in the cen­tral and north­ern re­gions.

In Jan­uary, Jor­dan’s state elec­tric­ity provider, the Na­tional Elec­tric Power Co. (NEPCO), signed an agree­ment to im­ple­ment the first two phases of the project with a Saudi com­pany at a cost of 19 mil­lion Jor­da­nian di­nars (about $27 mil­lion).

It is one of sev­eral schemes aimed at ac­com­mo­dat­ing re­new­able en­ergy as the Jor­da­nian gov­ern­ment looks to shift re­liance away from tra­di­tional sources and move to­ward en­ergy in­de­pen­dence.

A new Na­tional Green Growth Plan launched in May ear­marked re­new­able en­ergy as a key sec­tor in driv­ing sus­tain­able growth and reignit­ing the coun­try’s stag­nated econ­omy. The plan builds on am­bi­tious tar­gets out­lined in the re­turn on in­vest­ment in less than two and a half years, sav­ing around 1 mil­lion di­nars in an­nual elec­tric­ity bills.

So­lar pan­els have been placed on the roofs of the car park and univer­sity build­ings to soak up the rays from an av­er­age 330 days of sun­light a year in Jor­dan, which has one of the high­est rates of so­lar ir­ra­di­ance in the world.

This vis­i­bil­ity of the pan­els is also help­ing to raise aware­ness sur­round­ing so­lar power in the area, said project man­ager Saad Zi­dam. “There’s a lot of in­ter­est from the lo­cal com­mu­nity. Stu­dents, par­ents, visi­tors, staff — every­body is ask­ing how it works,” he said.

For stu­dents at the GJU, the project has made green tech­nol­ogy a re­al­ity. Diala Al-Yabrudi, a fourth-year stu­dent of en­gi­neer­ing and re­new­able en­ergy, said see­ing such a large-scale project un­der­way at a public univer­sity has shown stu­dents what is achiev­able.

“When I came here we were only study­ing the­o­ret­i­cally, but now even the stu­dents not tak­ing this sub­ject are get­ting fa­mil­iar with the idea of en­ergy con­ser­va­tion. We feel proud to be in a univer­sity that is us­ing the lat­est tech­nolo­gies to be en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly,” she said.

FB Group com­pleted a sim­i­lar project at the Hashemite Univer­sity last year, in­stalling a 5MW-ca­pac­ity sys­tem at a cost of 6 mil­lion di­nars. A much larger project at Al Hus­sein Bin Talal Univer­sity, which planned to in­stall a 50MW sys­tem, had to be cur­tailed af­ter the gov­ern­ment set a 20MW cap on public univer­sity projects, cit­ing lack of grid space.

De­spite this, Zi­dam says Jor­dan is still set­ting the pace when it comes to cre­at­ing an en­abling en­vi­ron­ment for re­new­able en­ergy in the re­gion.

“As far as reg­u­la­tions go, Jor­dan has the least amount of ob­sta­cles com­pared to neigh­bor­ing coun­tries like Egypt and Iraq.

“Coun­tries like the UAE may have bet­ter grids, but they usu­ally uti­lize in­ter­na­tional firms while we have built up a lot of lo­cal ex­per­tise.”

AMMAN: Five years of rapid growth has placed Jor­dan at the fore­front of re­new­ables in the re­gion, but now the sec­tor is stalling as it waits for the coun­try’s en­ergy in­fra­struc­ture to catch up.

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