Gov’t unveils new measures to recharge renewable energy drive
by Taylor Luck | Sep 30, 2012

AMMAN — Officials on Sunday unveiled new measures paving the way for citizens to sell electricity back to the national grid in a bid to encourage renewable energy use across the country.

According to the Ministry of Energy, the government approved new regulations last week allowing citizens and businesses to sell up to five megawatts (MW) of renewably generated electricity back to the National Electric Power Company.

Previous regulations outlined in the recently endorsed Renewable Energy Law prevented citizens from selling over 1MW.

“Under this decision, private citizens, businesses and hotels can sell directly to public electric utilities and we believe that this is a big step forward for the renewable energy sector,” Minister of Energy Alaa Batayneh said in a press conference on Sunday to announce the measure.

The Electricity Regulatory Commission and the Jordan Electricity Distribution Company are currently setting the purchase price for citizen-supplied electricity, Batayneh said, indicating that the rate will be set at “current generation costs”.

In a separate step to promote renewable energy, Batayneh announced that the government also passed new building codes requiring all new commercial and residential buildings to be fitted with solar water heaters.

Also under the new regulations, to come into force next April, solar water heaters will be obligatory for every existing apartment sized 150 square metres (sq.m) and above, as well as office spaces of 100sq.m and houses of 250sq.m or larger.

To help Jordanians make the switch to solar energy, Batayneh said, the ministry has partnered with the Jordan River Foundation to provide JD1.3 million in loans to households across the governorates for the purchase of solar water heaters.

Despite the technology’s affordability and the country’s abundant sunshine, solar water heater penetration in Jordan has decreased from 14 to 11 per cent over the past three years, which industry officials attribute to a lack of building regulations encouraging solar energy use.

The new measures come as officials attempt to revive the Kingdom’s renewable energy drive, which has stalled over the past two years due to delays in investment-friendly legislation.

Earlier this year, lawmakers endorsed the long-awaited Renewable Energy Law, which provides incentives for investment in solar and wind energy projects in order to achieve the national energy strategy’s goal of having renewable sources account for 10 per cent of the country’s energy mix by the end of the decade.