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‘New wind power plant to cover electricity needs of 150,000 people’

By Mohammad Ghazal - Apr 28,2014 - Last updated at Apr 28,2014

AMMAN — Construction work on Jordan’s first wind power plant, an investment worth $292 million, will start in the next few weeks, the Jordan Wind Project Company (JWPC) said Monday.

The 117-megawatt wind farm located in Tafileh, 180km southwest of Amman, is expected to be commercially operational in the last quarter of 2015, JWPC Chairman Samer Judeh told The Jordan Times on Monday.

The project is co-developed with InfraMed, which has a 50 per cent share, Abu Dhabi’s Masdar with 31 per cent and EP Global Energy with 19 per cent, Judeh said.

JWPC awarded a contract to Vestas to install turbines for the project, he added, noting that the wind farm will not only be the first in Jordan but also the first in the Middle East.

The wind farm is projected to generate about 400 gigawatt hours of electricity per year, which is sufficient to provide power to 150,000 Jordanians.

The 38 wind turbines required for the project will be directly transported from the Port of Aqaba to the site over the coming months, according to a statement issued by Vestas. 

“The first turbines will begin to produce electricity as from the first quarter of 2015, and the wind power plant will be fully operational by August 2015,” the statement said. 

Vestas said the project will provide jobs to “150 people during construction and 30 during its operation”.

Under an agreement, JWPC will sell electricity to the government at a fixed price for the next 20 years after operations start, Judeh said, adding that it will help save millions of dollars for the country.

“Generating 117 megawatts using wind energy will save about $50 million annually, as using heavy fuel and diesel for power generation, which is the current situation, means much higher costs.”

Major financial institutions extended about $221 million in loans for the project, including the International Finance Corporation, the European Investment Bank, Eksport Kredit Fonden, OPEC Fund for International Development, FMO, Europe Arab Bank and Capital Bank.

“This is a demonstration of financing institutions’ strong belief in Jordan’s business climate,” Judeh noted.

In a ceremony late Sunday, Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour attended a ceremony marking the launch of the project.

At the ceremony, Energy Minister Mohammad Hamed said the wind farm is one of several projects Jordan seeks to implement to increase renewable energy’s contribution to the Kingdom’s energy mix to 10 per cent by 2020.

Jordan suffered “tremendously” over the past three years, especially after the repeated cuts in natural gas supplies from Egypt, which increased the country’s energy bill to JD4 billion in 2013, representing about 19 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product, Hamed added.

Energy experts have often called for implementing wind energy projects in the Kingdom, since wind speeds in Jordan are as high as 7.5 metres per second and are up to 11.5 metres per second in hilly areas.

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