By Merza Noghai – Oct 15,2015

AMMAN — Sahab Municipality has started a plan to shift to solar energy in generating its electricity needs, a project that will make it “the first municipality in the Middle East” to become a green city, a municipality official said Thursday.

Targeted buildings in the project, which is implemented in collaboration with Future Pioneers NGO, include the municipality’s headquarters, its cultural centre, Hashemite Park, the municipal stadium and the bus terminal, in addition to four public schools and two main mosques, Haneen Hassouneh, head of the municipality’s development unit, told The Jordan Times in a phone interview.

“The project is aimed at saving energy, increasing the municipality’s efficiency by replacing regular lighting devices with energy-saving LED units and enhancing Sahab Municipality’s chances to join the EU Covenant of Mayors,” Hassouneh explained.

The covenant involves local and regional authorities voluntarily committing to increasing energy efficiency and use of renewable energy sources in their territories, according to its website.

“By their commitment, covenant signatories aim to meet and exceed the European Union 20 per cent carbon dioxide reduction objective by 2020.”

The municipality has to deliver a report to the covenant on its solar energy project in early 2016, showing the expected power saving and carbon dioxide reduction rates, Hassouneh said, noting the municipality had received a preliminary approval to join.

The European Union supported the municipality with 700,000 euros (around JD565,000) necessary to finance the project, she said, adding that the Royal Scientific Society (RSS) recently floated a tender for companies interested in implementing the 30-month scheme.

Bids will be examined on October 29 to decide the winning company, which will buy and install the LED units.

The units are expected to be ready in Sahab, some 22km southeast of Amman, before the end of 2016, the municipality official added.

“Power-saving rates at the municipality headquarters, library and court building are expected to reach 50 per cent of the current power bill,” Hassouneh said, citing studies released by the RSS’ National Energy Research Centre, a project partner.

In addition to replacing traditional light bulbs with LED units, solar cells for generating electricity will also be installed at the municipality building, the schools and the mosques, she noted.

Saving rates at the schools and mosques will reach 100 per cent, 25 per cent at the cultural centre, and 20 per cent at the town’s main street, while the bus station and Hashemite Park will be lighted for the first time using LED units, according to Hassouneh.

A solar-energy powered GPS system will be installed at the entrances and exits of the bus terminal to show the nearest routes between two destinations within the municipality borders, added the engineer.

“Since the announcement of the scheme, the municipality has so far held eight workshops for local residents, mainly women, to raise their awareness on the importance of saving energy by reducing electricity consumption,” Hassouneh said.
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