AMMAN — Efforts to tap the Arab world’s wind and solar power potential are to come under the spotlight this month as Jordan hosts the region’s largest gathering of renewable energy experts.
The experts are scheduled to convene in Amman from December 16 to 18 at the Second Arab Renewable Energy Congress in a bid to examine how to promote investment in the rapidly growing alternative energy sector.
During the three-day congress, industry leaders and researchers from two-dozen Arab and European countries are set to examine renewable energy-related legislation, energy planning and the role of solar and wind power in securing energy independence across the region.
According to advocates, this year’s congress will focus on efforts to boost regional investment in renewable energy, which, despite coming to the forefront of western nations’ energy priorities, contributes less than 1 per cent to the Arab world’s energy mix.
“We are at a stage where countries across the region are being affected both politically and economically by higher gas and electricity prices,” said Mohammed Taani of the Arab Renewable Energy Commission, congress co-sponsor.
“The answer to many of the region’s economic and political crises can be found in the sun and the wind and that is the message we aim to promote.”
The congress comes as Jordan renews its drive for renewable energy, with the government recently finalising regulations allowing citizens to sell back electricity to the national grid for the first time in the country’s history
Under the new regulations, citizens will be able to sell electricity generated by solar energy at a rate of 120 fils per kilowatt/hour (kw/h) and 85 fils per kw/h from wind power, a development energy officials said can result in a 70 per cent reduction in their electricity bill.
The Kingdom has prioritised the promotion of solar energy to lessen the growing burden on the state-backed National Electric Power Company, which currently provides electricity to consumers at an average rate of 88 fils per kw/h, less than half of the 188 kw/h generation cost.
Officials have also turned to solar and wind power to alleviate the country’s growing fiscal woes, with some JD1.2 billion in energy subsidies set to push the country’s budget deficit to a record JD2.2 billion.
Solar and wind energy currently account for less than 1 per cent of Jordan’s energy mix; well short of the 10 per cent 2020 target set by the country’s national energy strategy.