By Dulcie Heyes – Apr 19,2022

AMMAN — Over the course of the next seven months, UNRWA will be putting the final touches on a major solar power project anticipated to save up to “$1.2m per annum”, according to the UN agency.

According to an environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) created by Jordanian consulting firm  ECO Consult, the project will “establish a solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant at Amman Training Centre (ATC) with a capacity of 3 megawatts (MW”). 

This will supply electricity for UNRWA facilities in South Amman, North Amman and Zarqa in a more sustainable and cost-efficient manner — “to include, but not limited to, schools, health stations and administrative offices for a total of approximately 106 installations”. 

“It is planned that up to 80 per cent of the agency’s electricity consumption will be covered by this system”, said the deputy director of UNRWA affairs for operation, Olaf Becker. 

This project is expected to provide around “5.12-gigawatt/hour (GWh) of electricity per year”, reported by the ESIA. 

“The generation of electricity through a renewable source will offset greenhouse gas emissions as opposed to generating electricity from conventional thermal power plants, which is currently utilised in Jordan through the burning of natural gas and/or heavy fuel oil,” according to the assessment.

UNRWA has faced some minor challenges during the construction period. In response, UNRWA set a communication and risk mitigation plan to address these issues in close coordination with the German Development Bank (KfW), according to a statement from the UN agency.

“During the period from September 2020 to April 2021, Jordan Field Office received complaints from a number of neighbours who live adjacent to UNRWA ATC premises,” said UNRWA acting field public information officer Amjad Obaid. 

One component of this plan is “planting at least triple the number of trees that have been removed to mitigate any negative environmental impact”, said Obaid.

UNRWA and KfW are also developing a “rigorous monitoring process” to ensure that adequate environmental measures are implemented throughout the operation phase, according to Obaid. 

“UNRWA is committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as well as Jordan’s National Green Growth Plan and Climate Change Policy,” Becker stated. 

Henceforth, UNRWA aims to minimise its carbon footprint through projects such as this one where “80 per cent of the organisation’s energy consumption will be replaced with environmentally sustainable energy”, he said. 

Additionally, UNRWA will be able to reinvest the substantial savings generated from this project into its education, health and social services for Palestine refugees, Becker added.

With respect to the ongoing financial crisis that UNRWA is currently experiencing, Obaid affirmed that “the $1.2m savings that will be generated from this project will be critical for UNRWA to continue providing important services to Palestine refugees”. 

“These services include primary education to 120,000 children, over one million health consultations per year and social services to the most vulnerable refugees,” he added.

Furthermore, Becker mentioned, the generation of electricity through renewable/green sources will offset over 3,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, contributing to improving the air quality for residents.