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Time to shift focus to decentralised solar energy, report urges gov’t

Conference hears of untapped potential of small-scale solar installations

By Elizabeth Turnbull - Jul 09,2019 - Last updated at Jul 09,2019

A report released on Tuesday on the decentralisation of solar energy in Jordan urged the Kingdom to switch its focus to small-scale installation projects (JT file photo)

AMMAN — While Jordan ranked one of the top three emerging markets in terms of clean energy investment in 2018, according to Bloomberg rankings, it needs to shift its focus to decentralised solar energy, an approach which remains largely untouched, according to a report released at Tuesday's “Decentralised Solar in Jordan” conference.

Whereas distributed and utility-scale solar have been successfully deployed in Jordan in the past few years, decentralised solar would have a greater impact on the individual, as it involves small-scale installations connected to low to medium-voltage distribution grids, installed on the roofs of houses, businesses, public spaces or small parcels of land, according to the Decentralised Solar in Jordan report.

“We've done a lot in the past years but we are still very ambitious to do more and more," Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Hala Zawati said at the conference.

EDAMA, along with the Freidrich-Ebert-Stiftung and SolarPower Europe, released a report at the conference on Tuesday, detailing the socioeconomic benefits of decentralised solar and suggestions on how to improve administrative procedures for projects involved in decentralised renewable energy, according to the report.

A one-stop-shop online application system to check on dates of inspection and operation, a reduction in the amount of permits needed for renewable energy projects and a unified practical implementation and interpretation of legislative stipulations with clear and reasonable deadlines are some of the recommendations the report laid out to help with the decentralisation process.

The minister reiterated the ideas that renewable energy is necessary for the environment and for those who are needy.

"We strongly believe that distributive systems should increase, especially for the needy and the poor," Zawati said.

While the share of solar in the Jordanian electricity mix reached 11 per cent in June and a projected $4 billion of foreign investment will be attracted to the country by 2020, due to renewable energy, a decentralised approach to renewable energy is looking as if it may be even more advantageous, according to the report. 

In terms of functionality, decentralised solar is smaller and easier to manoeuvre, is quicker to install and can easily be placed in urban areas, according to the report.

Socioeconomically, such solar energy is cheaper for homeowners and businesses than alternative means of obtaining electricity. Rather than having to simply pay energy companies for a service they produce, residents or business owners with small-scale solar power produce the energy they consume or may limit consumption based on grid constraints, or own a storage battery, according to the report.

Residential rooftops typically have lower than 10kW capacity, commercial segments between 10kW and 250kW capacity and the industrial segments between 250kW and 1MW capacity, according to the report.

In addition, the creation and placement of this means of energy means more jobs in engineering, installation and maintenance as a result of the small scale of such energy production, according to the report.

Because decentralised solar energy is smaller, it requires less grid reinforcement if installed in urban areas, areas where the grid is already developed and costly transmission network upgrades are not required, according to the report.

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