Saudi firms start on Jordan solar
Jordan has 540MW of projects under construction
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”.
Jordan is working to trim its energy import bill, amounting to US$3.6bn, by adding more solar and wind power.