Saudi firms start on Jor­dan so­lar

Jor­dan has 540MW of projects un­der con­struc­tion

The National - News - Business - - The Region - LeAnne Graves lgraves@thena­

Saudi com­pa­nies have started con­struc­tion on an­other round of so­lar projects in Jor­dan as the coun­try aims to re­duce en­ergy im­ports. The bulk of Jor­dan’s power gen­er­a­tion is im­ported, cost­ing the coun­try about US$3.6 bil­lion, 14 per cent of its GDP. The govern­ment be­gan push­ing for more re­new­ables to be in­te­grated to help cut de­pen­dence on im­ports, man­dat­ing that sources such as so­lar and wind would gen­er­ate 10 per cent of Jor­dan’s elec­tric­ity by 2020.

So­lar will play an in­te­gral role, mak­ing up 1,000 megawatts (MW) of power. The Mid­dle East So­lar In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion said that Jor­dan al­ready had 540MW of so­lar pho­to­voltaic (PV) projects un­der con­struc­tion with an­other 200MW ex­pected this year.

Fo­towa­tio Re­new­able Ven­tures (FRV), part of Saudi Ara­bia’s Ab­dul Latif Jameel En­ergy (ALJ), be­gan work on two so­lar PV projects yes­ter­day. These will pro­duce so­lar power at 6.9 and 7.6 US cents per kilo­watt hour.

Roberto de Diego Aroza­mena, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of ALJ En­ergy, said that these low costs proved that so­lar was com­pet­i­tive and a vi­able en­ergy source for the re­gion.

“The fact is that elec­tric­ity in Jor­dan will now be gen­er­ated at low cost – less than the cur­rent av­er­age price of elec­tric­ity in the coun­try – and nearly 80,000 homes will be pow­ered with clean en­ergy,” he said. “That is good news when it comes to high­light­ing the ben­e­fits of so­lar power and why coun­tries such as Jor­dan and Saudi Ara­bia are rightly fo­cus­ing their ef­forts on clean en­ergy.”

The plants, Mafraq I and Mafraq II, were part of the sec­ond round of Jor­dan’s re­new­able en­ergy ten­ders – which orig­i­nally to­talled 200MW. There were a few changes, which in­cluded new own­er­ship, lead­ing to only 150MW mov­ing ahead.

ALJ was awarded only one project in the sec­ond round among bid­ders, which in­cluded Sun­Rise PV Sys­tems from Greece and Saudi Oger.

As Saudi Oger faced fi­nan­cial strug­gles, ALJ took over its stake. The other switch came when Acwa Power, an­other Saudi com­pany, bought into the Sun­Rise project. Though the Greek com­pany is still in­volved with the project com­pany, Acwa Power is han­dling the fi­nanc­ing and devel­op­ment.

Acwa said in Novem­ber it had ob­tained $54m in loans from the Euro­pean Bank for Re­con­struc­tion and Devel­op­ment and the Nether­lands Devel­op­ment Fi­nance Com­pany for the Mafraq project. Thamer Al Sharhan, Acwa’s man­ag­ing direc­tor, said last year that the com­pany “cap­i­talised on a unique op­por­tu­nity to en­hance its re­new­able foot­print in Jor­dan”.

Regis Du­vi­g­nau / Reuters

Jor­dan is work­ing to trim its en­ergy im­port bill, amount­ing to US$3.6bn, by adding more so­lar and wind power.

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