Kingdom has highest photovoltaic capacity in region

By Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto – Jan 23,2018

AMMAN — Jordan is the 3rd country in the Arab world in renewable energy capacity, according to an infographic on the state of sustainable energy capacities in the region recently issued by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES).

The Kingdom showed the highest photovoltaic capacity in the region, according to the report, which also ranked Jordan first in renewable energy resources per capita when only non-hydropower energies were considered.

However, the Kingdom´s position changes significantly when hydropower is included, moving down five positions as Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Syria and Algeria escalate in the ranking.

Hamzeh Bany Yasin, climate and energy policy programme manager at FES, told The Jordan Times that the country’s progress towards renewable energies was “obvious”, stressing that “in 2016, solar photovoltaic capacity has witnessed an 11-fold increase, and the wind capacity increased by almost 55 per cent.”

“Jordan is considered one of the Middle East’s most promising clean energy markets,” Bany Yasin continued, adding that “in Jordan’s case, renewable energy has the potential to enhance energy security and improve access to affordable energy.”

However, Jordan still lacks natural resources and is dependent on energy imports, according to Richard Probst, MENA eegional coordinator at FES’ Climate and Energy Policy Programme.

“Jordan and Morocco are both on a good way to achieve their own set of renewable energy targets,” Probst added, noting that “both could still push more for the exploitation of wind and sun in order to become the unchallenged champions of renewable energy in the MENA region.”

The regional picture appeared to be less optimistic, with the total renewable energy generation capacity in the Arab world standing at just over 6 per cent of its total electricity generation capacity, below the 2014 global average of 22.8 per cent.

Regarding the regional challenges, the report pointed out that “while the cost of generation from renewable sources has been dropping rapidly in recent years, heavily subsidised electricity below the cost of generation remains a challenge to the financial viability of renewable energy across the region.”

In addition, the report pointed out grid interconnections between countries as a “proven way of managing the intermittency of solar and wind renewable energy in the absence of energy storage”.

The infographic is a result of FES’ project “In Pursuit of Sustainable Energy Sources”, which analyses the state of renewable energy in the region, the regional aspirations on the matter, the challenges to face and the possible solutions.

Research and graphics were provided by the Carboun initiative for sustainable cities in the Middle East, and the data was sourced from the International Renewable Energy Agency, the Regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, Bloomberg (Jordan Targets), the World Energy Council, Lazard’s Levelised Cost reports.

Asked about the reasons behind the project, Probst highlighted the need to “spread awareness among the population about the economic and social potentials of renewable energy in Jordan and the entire MENA region”, stressing that “only with a strong political will Jordan can truly benefit from renewable energy as a homegrown resource.”