Grid upgrades will help stalled wind projects

JORDAN: Work has started on reinforcing Jordan's transmission grid in order to integrate more renewable energy on to the network and improve the reliability of the power supply.

Jordan could soon add to its 185MW of installed win-power capacity (pic: JWPC)

While much of the new capacity will be taken by solar power, wind energy will also benefit. "The Green Corridor project should allow a dramatic expansion of wind power," said Steve Sawyer, secretary general of the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).

The project promises two new high-voltage transmission lines and upgrades to three existing lines, and to build a new substation and enlarge two others. Work has already started and, although some impact studies still need to be carried out, is slated for completion in 2018.

Jordan's National Electric Power Company (Nepco), which is managing the project, said it should increase grid capacity by more than 2GW by 2020.

The project will allow power generated in the wind-rich south to be carried north to the main population centres around the capital, Amman. This will give the green light to more than 300MW of consented wind projects held up for lack of capacity, including 98MW at Al Fujeij and 82MW at Al Rajef, both in the southern Ma'an governate.

It will also enable the government to launch a third call for projects under the "direct proposal" system, the details and timing of which have yet to be announced.

The majority of funding for the Green Corridor project is coming from Europe. The European Investment Bank (EIB) will provide a loan of €87.5 million, the French Development Agency €29.6 million, and the EU's Neighbourhood Investment Facility a grant of €17.35 million. Nepco will stump up the remaining €11.65 million.

For countries outside the EU, the EIB has a mandate from the European Commission to support economic growth and stability. The grid project could help refugees in the camps along Jordan's northern borders with Syria and Iraq.

"Energy independence and stable prices will help ensure political and economic stability, which means fewer refugees," Sawyer agreed. And, of course, the hope is that some of the orders will go to Europe, with Vestas already tipped to supply Al Fujeij and Gamesa Al Rajef.