by Mohammad Ghazal | Oct 16, 2014 | 23:01

AMMAN — The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, said it has finalised a $207.5 million loan package to fund the construction of seven solar photovoltaic plants in Jordan.

The package is the largest private sector-led solar initiative in the Middle East and North Africa, according to the corporation.

In a statement posted on its website Wednesday, the IFC said it tailored an innovative programme to support the government’s first phase of a planned total of 12 solar power plants, and will provide loans worth $91.5 million from its own account.

Another $116 million will be mobilised from Arab Bank (Bahrain), European Arab Bank, the Dutch development bank FMO, Finn Fund, and OPEC’s Fund for International Development, according to the IFC.

The seven plants have a combined capacity of 102 megawatts (MW), and will become Jordan’s “first private industry-scale solar photovoltaic parks”. They will generate 212 gigawatt hours each year of non-polluting, sustainable power and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 123,000 tonnes annually, the IFC said.

Jordan has already signed deals for 12 solar projects with total capacity of 200MW.

Energy Minister Mohammad Hamed said in recent remarks to The Jordan Times that projects with 500MW capacity will be connected to the grid next year.

By 2018, renewable energy projects with a total capacity of 1,800MW will be connected to the grid.

Hamed added that more projects will be announced soon when securing financing from Arab Gulf states to expand the grid’s capacity.

“This innovative project harnesses solar power to help Jordan meet its growing demand for energy in a cost-effective and eco-friendly way,” the IFC statement quoted Mouayed Makhlouf, IFC director for the Middle East and North Africa, as saying.

“In a region where demand for electricity is rising rapidly every year, it also demonstrates the importance of the private sector in increasing capacity and boosting global renewable energy generation.”

Five of the parks will be built near the city of Maan, some 220km south of Amman, while the other two will be located near Aqaba, some 330km south of the capital, and near Mafraq, 80km northeast of Amman.

The projects are being developed and built by various consortiums of local and international investors through seven independent private sector companies: Shamsuna Power Company (Aqaba); Falcon Maan for Solar Energy; Arabia One for Clean Energy Investments; Al Ward Al Joury for Energy Generation; Al Zahrat Al Salam for Energy Generation; Al Zanbaq for Energy Generation; and Jordan Solar One (Mafraq).

The solar projects follow IFC’s $221 million financing for Jordan’s 117MW wind farm in 2013, and are a part of a broader strategy to help boost power supplies in the Kingdom, where electricity demand is increasing by 8 per cent every year.

The new solar plants will also reduce Jordan’s reliance on imported fossil fuels.

According to experts, the Kingdom has one of the highest annual daily averages of solar irradiance in the world with an estimated 330 days of sunshine per year.–of-seven-solar-power-plants-in-jordan