By Taylor Luck

AMMAN – Talks are ongoing between the government and a firm selected to carry out the country’s first wind power plant, according to a senior energy official.

The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources and Greek firm Terna Energy SA remain in negotiations over the construction of a 40 megawatt (MW) wind farm in Kamsheh near Jerash, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Khalid Irani said.

“Talks are ongoing with the selected bidder,” Irani told The Jordan Times in a recent phone interview, adding that if a deal is reached “soon”, the plant could be up and running by 2013.

The minister also highlighted the progress on the proposed wind power plant in Fujeij. The ministry is currently vetting 16 firms from Europe, North America, Asia and the Arab world to construct the plant, a 90MW wind farm near Shobak, some 200 kilometres south of the capital.

Irani ruled out the possibility that the two wind farms will be established within the same time frame.

Last year, the tender for the small-scale wind turbine farm in Kamsheh garnered the interest of two international companies, a Russian firm and Terna, with whom the government entered negotiations.

The main obstacles to concluding the agreement were the high tariffs and prices quoted for electricity included in the proposal, ministry officials previously told The Jordan Times. Officials have indicated that the prices were based on high oil prices due to the economic situation when the proposal was crafted in late 2008.

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. The Renewable Energy Law, endorsed earlier this year, allows the ministry to negotiate with companies directly, and requires proposals for projects to state fixed electricity tariffs.