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Jordan unveils first private sector wind, solar projects

By Taylor Luck - Feb 20,2013 - Last updated at Feb 20,2013

AMMAN — Energy Minister Alaa Batayneh on Wednesday unveiled plans for the country’s first private sector renewable energy projects as part of efforts to ease the Kingdom’s ongoing energy crunch.

At a press conference Batayneh said the government launched talks with two private sector firms to establish a 10 megawatt (MW) solar plant in the northern city of Mafraq and a 117MW wind farm on the outskirts of the southern city of Tafileh.

The initiatives come as part of some 30 memoranda of understanding signed between the government and local and international investors to establish up to 1,000MW worth of small- and medium-scale renewable energy projects across the country over the next five years.

“These projects will help Jordanians save on their electricity bills and ensure a clean and constant source of domestic energy,” Batayneh told reporters.

The proposed photovoltaic solar plant, to be established by the Philadelphia Solar Power Company in the Manara region on the outskirts of Mafraq, is to be built on a build-operate-own basis at a cost of JD16 million over the next 16 months.

The 117MW wind farm, which will be built by the local Jordan Wind Power Company at a cost of some JD205 million, is to come online by 2014.

Batayneh expected electricity generated by the solar project to be sold at a rate of some 120 fils per kilowatt/hour (kw/h), and 90 fils kw/h for wind, compared to the current average 180 fils per kw/h generation costs that face the country.

Officials expect to finalise negotiations with the two firms by April, the minister said.

The national energy bill is expected to reach a record JD4 billion in 2013, with a domestic energy demand growth rate of 7 per cent that requires between JD300 million and JD400 million in annual investments in the electricity sector.

Within the Kingdom's energy strategy, the government seeks to boost solar and wind energy’s contribution to the national energy mix from 1 to 10 per cent by the end of the decade, a goal that requires up to $1 billion in investment.

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