Solar Energy in Jordan

Jordan has been the leader in the development of renewable energy systems in the Middle East, with its tremendous renewable energy potential in the form of wind, solar, biomass and waste-to-energy. Renewable energy accounted for about 2% of the energy consumption in 2009, and the country has set ambitious targets to raise this share to 7% in 2015 and 10% in 2020. To achieve these figures, more than 1200MW of renewable energy projects are expected to be implemented in the coming decade, with emphasis on solar and wind energy.

Solar Potential

The solar energy potential in Jordan is enormous as it lies within the solar belt of the world with average solar radiation ranging between 5 and 7KWh/m2, which implies a potential of at least 1000GWh per year. Solar energy, like other forms of renewable energy, remains underutilized in Jordan. Decentralized photovoltaic units in rural and remote villages are currently used for lighting, water pumping and other social services (1000KW of peak capacity). In addition, about 15% of all households are equipped with solar water heating systems. Recently, a solar pond for potash production was built in the Dead Sea area.

Jordan has major plans for increasing the use of solar energy. As per the Energy Master Plan, 30 percent of all households are expected to be equipped with solar water heating system by the year 2020. The Government is hoping to construct the first Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) demonstration project in the short to medium term and is considering Aqaba and the south-eastern region for this purpose. It is also planning to have solar desalination plant. According to the national strategy the planned installed capacity will amount to 300MW – 600MW (CSP, PV and hybrid power plants) by 2020.

Jordan’s numerous solar hot water companies have been progressive in researching new applications such as combined solar-thermal/absorption-chiller equipment. One promising initiative led by the South Company for Construction and Development, for example, plans to develop a combined industrial park for the manufacture of solar panels, research and development of solar applications, and vocational training.

Promising Initiatives

One of the most promising potential investments in renewable energy worldwide will be installing more than 250 MW of concentrated solar power (CSP) in Jordan’s Ma’an development zone through different projects developed by the private sector. The upcoming CSP solar power plants in Ma’an would highlight Jordan’s strategy of sustainable energy diversification. The Ma’an Development Area enjoys about 320 days of sunshine a year, with a high level of irradiance that allows over 2500 million kWh of primary energy to be harvested annually from each square kilometre.  At full capacity, the planned flagship CSP plant could meet some 4% of the Kingdom’s electricity needs, reducing the reliance on electricity imports from neighbouring countries. Surplus energy could in turn be sold to Syria, Egypt and Palestine, whose networks are connected to Jordan.

Qawar Energy in partnership with Maan Development Area (MDA) has recently announced the launch of its $400 million Shams Ma’an Project, a 100MW photovoltaic (PV) power plant project to come up at the MDA industrial park in Jordan. The project, being undertaken in partnership with MDA, is spread across a two million m2 area, and expected to be ready in 2012. On completion, it will be the largest PV plant in the world that will position Jordan on the global renewable energy map attracting investments, technologies and knowhow. It aims to utilize approximately 360,000 to 2 million PV/CPV panels and produce around 168 GWh per year

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Salman Zafar is the Founder of Cleantech Solutions, and an international consultant, advisor and trainer with expertise in waste management, biomass energy, waste-to-energy, environment protection and resource conservation. His geographical areas of focus include Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Salman has successfully accomplished a wide range of projects in the areas of biogas technology, biomass energy, waste-to-energy, recycling and waste management. Salman has participated in numerous national and international conferences all over the world. He is a prolific environmental journalist, and has authored more than 300 articles in reputed journals, magazines and websites. In addition, he is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on renewable energy, waste management and environmental sustainability through his blogs and portals. Salman can be reached at salman@bioenergyconsult.com or salman@cleantechloops.com.

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