By Rand Dalgamouni

AMMAN – Jordan has great potential to achieve energy security if it properly utilises its renewable energy resources, researchers said on Wednesday.

In a session during the “Energy Security in the Middle East and the Gulf Region” forum yesterday, researcher Ahmad Azzam said the Kingdom’s theoretical potential to benefit from wind and solar energy surpasses that of the US, the UK, France, China and Russia combined.

“So if we utilise our renewable energy resources, we may be able to secure a permanent seat in the UN Security Council,” quipped Azzam, who leads a World Bank-financed study to estimate indicative prices of renewable energy sources in Jordan.

In an address at the forum’s opening ceremony, Patrice Dreiski, senior expert at the Energy Charter Secretariat, noted that countries in the region are “the most promising” in the field of renewable energy, pointing to solar power as a significant resource and “potential for cooperation”.

“Sunshine is abundant in Jordan. It offers great prospects as a resource that can be exploited,” he told The Jordan Times.

The energy expert noted that the Kingdom stands to gain from ratifying the Energy Charter, “the only legally binding international treaty on energy”, which will help protect energy investment mechanisms.

Dreiski said the recent crisis in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has “launched solid reflections on nuclear energy”.

“It is a matter of safety. The question is whether the country is able to manage a nuclear plant in the long term,” he noted, adding that Jordan’s venture into nuclear energy requires “particular attention” and “careful consideration”.

The Fukushima nuclear plant began leaking radiation into the air, sea and soil, in the wake of a tsunami that followed a 9.0 magnitude earthquake in Japan in March.

Azzam argued that investing in the Kingdom’s nuclear resources is “not feasible”, requiring “high amounts of water supply for cooling”. He added that nuclear energy “is always connected” and subject to political elements.

“We need to have a mature economy and mature human resources [when utilising nuclear energy]. With the same amount of money invested in a nuclear plant, we can build 10-15 wind farms and employ thousands,” he pointed out.

Organised by the Arab Institute for Security Studies, in partnership with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) and the Energy Research Programme, the two-day international forum aims to examine energy problems from the region’s “point of view”, away from the West’s interests, according to KAS Resident Representative Martin Beck.

Speaking during the opening ceremony yesterday, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Khaled Toukan said the Kingdom, now more than ever, needs to enhance and utilise its natural resources, underscoring the effect of the recent disruptions in the Egyptian natural gas supply to the Kingdom on the economy.

An explosion near Port Fouad in the Sinai Peninsula this week was the latest a series of events hindering natural gas supplies to Jordan.

Previous attacks resulted in two separate six-week disruptions that forced the Kingdom’s power plants to rely on heavy fuel oil reserves at a cost of some $5 million per day.