Jordan moves up a gear

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Jordan suddenly seems to be waking up to wind power. Although the country has just 1.45 MW turning to date, energy minister Khaldoun Qteishat recently indicated the country might double its target of 600 MW of wind energy by 2020 thanks largely to advances in technology.

According to the 2007 National Energy Strategy, Jordan plans to meet 10% of its energy needs from renewables by 2020. This equates to around 1200 MW, to be split equally between wind and solar power. Jordan is also increasingly keen to build more domestic generation and cut its fuel bills; over 20% of the country's gross domestic product goes on energy imports.

With this in mind, various initiatives are under way to encourage independent power producers to invest in new capacity. Last year, the government exempted renewable energy technologies from a 16% sales tax and 23% customs duties and allowed them rent-free use of public land. But the key element is the eagerly awaited energy law, now expected to be approved in the summer. One of its main planks for renewable energy is to allow for competitive bidding to set purchase prices, though investors will be able to submit projects outside the tendering system.

The draft law also allows for the establishment of a renewable energy and energy efficiency fund to remove barriers to the take up of wind energy, including establishing a stable regulatory framework, meeting the difference in cost between wind generation and conventional means and providing technical assistance (Windpower Monthly, October 2008). The fund will be financed jointly by donor countries through the World Bank's Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Jordanian government, and will be managed by an independent body made up of representatives from the private and public sectors.

As for actual projects, the government recently announced the outcome of a bidding process for a 30-40 MW wind power plant at Al Kamshah (Windpower Monthly, May 2009). It is also expected to launch another tender call at the end of April for 80-90 MW at Fujeij, near the southern town of Shobak, to be contracted on a build, own and operate basis, as was the Al Kamshah project. It will be developed as a promotional wind project, with technical and financial support from the GEF. Completion is scheduled for 2011.

The ministry further hopes to issue a tender for 300-400 MW by the end of this year. It is planned for three projects at Al Harir, Maan and Wadi Araba, all in the south of the country, which have been grouped together to make them more attractive to investors.

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