Jun 29,2017

AMMAN — The spectre of climate change looms large over Jordan, as it does for many other countries in the Middle East and North Africa, Mouayed Makhlouf, International Finance Corporation (IFC) regional director for MENA, said on Wednesday.

“Large-scale renewable energy projects such as the one in Tafileh are crucial for lowering greenhouse gas emissions and putting the region on the path of sustainable development,” Makhlouf added in a statement published on the IFC website.

In the statement, which IFC issued to shed light on its contributions to providing clean and renewable energy, the regional director said that IFC also took the lead in arranging a $200-million financing package for a series of small solar-power plants in Jordan, collectively known as the Seven Sisters.

The programme is the largest privately backed solar project in the region, and serves as a template for a dozen other plants now under consideration, he added.

In addition, IFC arranged a $76-million financing package for Fotowatio Renewable Ventures, helping the company build a 50-megawatt solar power plant in northern Jordan, Makhlouf noted.

The World Bank Group has worked closely with the Jordanian government to overhaul electricity laws, which encouraged private power companies to enter the market, easing the government’s fiscal burden, the IFC official said.

The shift to renewable energy is an important part of Jordan’s efforts to stabilise its budget.

Tafileh’s wind turbines are impressive — each blade measures 55 metres, half the length of a football field; but the greater significance of the plant is how it paved the way for other national renewable energy projects, Makhlouf said.

After Tafileh, the government and private sector agreed on $1.6 billion worth of investments in wind farms and solar arrays, according to the statement.

“It [the Tafileh plant] opened the door,” allowing Jordan to use its available natural resources to maximum advantage, said Samer Judeh, chairman of the Jordan Wind Project Company that developed the Tafileh plant.

“I feel very proud and very humbled that we were able to accomplish this,” he added.

“Jordan is a country that lacks oil and gas reserves,” Judeh said, adding that this wind farm is a pioneering project. “The whole country is excited.”

IFC played a key role in the Tafileh project creation, including working early on with the World Bank to help the government implement the regulatory and legal reforms necessary to ensure best practices and the overall bankability of the project structure.

IFC also spearheaded a $221-million financing package that backed the plant. The funding is part of IFC’s larger effort to kick-start the development of Jordan’s renewable energy industry and to create a market for green power.

Since 2013, IFC has arranged more than $500 million financing for wind farms and solar projects in the Kingdom.

The Tafileh Wind Farm, which can power 80,000 homes, is at the forefront of a push by resource-poor Jordan to transform itself into a clean-energy powerhouse, the statement added.