By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – HRH Prince Asem Bin Nayef on Monday announced the launch of the Arab Council for Renewable Energy, which seeks to promote renewable energy use and appliances in the Arab region.

During the Green Techies Forum and Exhibition (GTFEX 2010), which opened yesterday with the participation of over 350 sector representatives from 35 countries, Prince Asem also announced the launch of the European-Jordanian Renewable Energy Platform.

He noted that the world is currently facing numerous energy crises, including declining oil reserves coupled with increasing demand, rising prices, economic restrictions, climate change, air and water pollution, dying forests and global warming.

“The answer for all these crises is the change to renewable energy, a green culture and green economies. And it is about time to for the change to take place,” the Prince said at the forum’s opening ceremony.

Prince Asem, who heads the Jordanian Renewable Energy Society (JRES), also called for overcoming the economic and political barriers that hinder the progress of renewable energy.

Participants in the three-day event, organised by JRES and the Ministry of Public Works and Housing, will focus on emerging and advanced green technology trends, in addition to legislation and investment opportunities related to the sector in Jordan and the region.

GTFEX 2010 Spokesperson Ghazi Khdairi underscored that the forum will place the Kingdom on the international map of countries supporting green culture and the green economy.

Renewable energy is seen as essential to reducing the Kingdom’s reliance on energy imports, which account for 96 per cent of energy consumed in the country and cost around 13 per cent of gross domestic product.

The National Energy Strategy calls for 7 per cent of the Kingdom’s energy mix to come from renewable energy sources by 2015, and 10 per cent by 2020. According to various estimates, meeting the strategy’s goals requires billions of dollars in investments over the next decade.

Minister of Public Works and Housing Mohammad Obeidat said the ministry, in cooperation with JRES, focuses on energy efficiency, particularly in government institutions.

He noted that the ministry plans to gradually turn public institutions into green buildings that are energy efficient and sustainable, and to use solar energy for street lighting.

“Millions of people around the world are suffering from natural catastrophes due to improper use of non-renewable resources; therefore it is necessary to invest inة solar, wind, water and wave energy,” Obeidat said.

Meanwhile, JRES Vice President Abdul Rahim Hunaiti, who is chairman of the GTFEX 2010 organising committee, said the endorsement of the Renewable Energy Law earlier this year will encourage local and foreign private sector investment in renewable energy projects in Jordan.

The new law allows the ministry to negotiate with companies directly, and requires proposals for projects to state fixed electricity tariffs.

Authorities have given priority to wind power, known for its affordability and relatively quick construction time, as a key part of the Kingdom’s strategy for greater energy independence, expected to account for 1,600MW by the year 2020.