By Taylor Luck

AMMAN – Over one-dozen international companies competing to build a wind power plant in the southern region convened at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources on Sunday.

Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Khalid Irani met with representatives of 16 international firms from South Korea, Greece, Spain, France, Germany, Japan and the US interested in carrying out the Fujeij wind power project, ministry spokesperson Mahmoud Eis told The Jordan Times over the phone yesterday.

During the meeting, Irani explained the details of the project, which entails the establishment of a 90 megawatt (MW) wind farm in Fujeij, near Shobak, some 200 kilometres south of the capital.

Irani said that the Social Security Corporation’s Investment Unit has expressed interest in taking part in the project, to be established on a build-own-operate basis, by partnering with the winning firm.

He also highlighted that part of the $6 million grant extended to the Kingdom by the Global Environment Facility to support renewable energy initiatives will be allocated to fund the project’s feasibility studies.

Offers for the Fujeij plant should be submitted by December 19, with the Ministry of Energy expected to announce the winning bidder in February 2011.

Under the recently endorsed Renewable Energy Law, companies can now bypass a competitive bidding process and negotiate with the ministry directly.

According to the proposal and in line with the new law, the National Electric Power Company will be obligated to purchase electricity generated by the proposed wind power plant for a 20-year period.

Representatives of the 16 companies are expected to tour the Fujeij site today, before concluding their visit to the Kingdom, according to Eis.

The Fujeij plant is seen as a first step towards realising the National Energy Strategy, which calls for 7 per cent of the Kingdom’s energy mix to come from renewable energy sources by 2015.

By the end of the decade, renewable energy is to account for 10 per cent of the energy mix, with 1,200MW of electricity generated by wind power.