By Taylor Luck

AMMAN – Jordan is determined to pursue renewable energy despite difficulties posed by the international market, a top energy official said on Thursday.

Addressing a seminar on wind energy hosted by the Danish embassy in Amman and Vestas yesterday, Minister of Energy Khalid Irani said attracting investments for renewable energy projects in Jordan “has not been easy”.

Irani attributed the difficulties to unfavourable global market conditions, a rise in wind energy turbine prices, challenges in obtaining project financing, and the relatively small size of the Jordanian market for renewable energy.

Acknowledging the maturity of wind technology, Irani called for the supply chain of wind turbines to be shortened in order to minimise construction time and meet demand quicker.

The minister highlighted the Renewable Energy Law, which allows the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources to negotiate with companies directly and obliges the National Electric Power Company to purchase all electricity produced by renewable energy projects.

Meanwhile, Danish Ambassador in Amman Thomas Lund-Sorensen highlighted the growing demand for wind energy technology across the world.

“Renewable energy is no longer a dream but a business on a very large scale,” he noted.

Lund-Sorenson praised the Kindom’s energy strategy, noting that calls for an additional 300MW of electricity each year over the next decade.

“Unfortunately this challenge has not been met fully,” he said noting that with five years left before the strategy’s first benchmark, only 1 per cent of the Kingdom’s energy mix comes from renewable sources.

The envoy highlighted the need for set feed-in tariffs and clarification of land ownership rights in areas with good wind flow.

The National Energy Strategy requires 10 per cent of the Kingdom’s energy mix to come from renewable sources and 30 per cent solar water heater penetration by 2020.

Danish firm Vestas, which has built 30 per cent of the world’s wind turbines, regionally has wind plants operating in Turkey and Egypt, and can adapt technology to the Kingdom’s various climates, according to the company.

The ministry is currently vetting international offers for the construction of a an 80-90 megawatt (MW) windfarm in Fujeij near Shobak, some 200 kilometres south of the capital. According to the minister, the plant will have the capacity to be expanded to generate 200MW of electricity

The government is also looking to establish a 40MW wind plant in Kamshah, north of Jerash, to be built on a build-operate-transfer basis with financing provided by the World Bank.

Energy imports cost the Kingdom 13 per cent of its gross dometic product in 2009, with electricity demand expected to grow 7 per cent annually over the next decade.