By Taylor Luck

AMMAN – Amman will soon be home to a regional commission designed to place renewable energy on the agendas of decision makers across the Arab world.

The recently formed Arab Renewable Energy Commission (AREC) has selected Jordan as the location of its headquarters, Jordan Renewable Energy Society (JRES) Director Mohammad Taani said.

The non-governmental commission, which aims to promote the development and promotion of renewable energy in the region, comprises 13 Arab states: Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Qatar, Libya, Bahrain, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and the UAE.

Taani noted that although many Arab countries have pledged to boost the use of renewable energy up to 10 per cent of their energy mix by the end of the decade, many are currently projected to fall short of the benchmark.

“Arab countries still haven’t considered the importance of renewable energy. Countries across the world are investing billions in renewable energy, but there is nothing on the ground in the Arab world,” he told The Jordan Times over the phone.

AREC will coordinate awareness campaigns in various Arab countries on the benefits of renewable energy and energy efficiency, underscoring the potential of the technology to spur job growth in Arab countries, Taani said.

As part of its efforts to advocate for green energy, AREC will also help arrange the Global Green Tech Forum in various Arab states in order to gather representatives of the private and public sectors to discuss potentials in the renewable energy sector.

The second Global Green Tech Forum is slated to be held in Manama, Bahrain, this fall, with the 2012 conference to be organised in Saudi Arabia, Taani said.

Meanwhile, the JRES is preparing to float tenders for small-scale grid connectivity projects using photovoltaic and concentrated solar panel technology in the southern region.

According to Taani, the society has completed feasibility studies for the three projects, which will generate a combined 20 megawatts.

“It is small, but we need to start somewhere,” he said, indicating that the Kingdom’s electricity grid has yet to handle large-scale renewable energy projects.

HRH Prince Asem Ben Nayef serves as president of the JRES, which was formed to help the country reach the goals of the national energy strategy that calls for renewable energy to account for 7 per cent of the Kingdom’s energy mix by 2015 and 10 per cent by 2020.

Renewable sources currently account for less than 1 per cent of energy consumed in the country, according to official figures.