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Jordan Energy Crisis Requires an ALL JORDANIAN Solution January 30, 2012

Posted by aboosh in Egypt, Jordan, Renewable Energy.
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A few days ago, I wrote a blog post about the imminent energy crisis in Jordan in the coming summer. The amount of losses that the power production in Jordan amount to about $1.8B annually. This is economically unsustainable, when compared to Jordan’s GDP of $30B ($3B of that in the form of money transfer from professionals working outside Jordan’s borders).

The main reason for these losses is the conversion to heavy fuel from the now-not-so-dependable Egyptian gas, whose pipeline was bombed 10 times in 2011. The losses are expected to weigh heavily on the Jordanians pockets, as there is a move to increase the electricity tariffs, which has already started. The increase in the tariffs will affect the citizens in a compounded way, through direct increases in the power bills, and the increase in the basic supplies due to the increase in the cost of production, transportation, and storage. The planned increase in the governmental pay, and the inflation offset raise, might be offset by this increase in living expenses, making the whole process DOA.

We have called to move Jordan to renewable clean energy, namely solar, as a part of a large strategic shift away from Jordan’s dependency on imported fossil fuel. The increased power bill makes the investment in solar energy production more feasible and attainable to more Jordanians. We all welcomed the news of the approved project to supply the city of Tafilah with solar panels based on the more-affordable solar-micro-converter technology. We believe that this is one of the stepping stones needed to market clean solar power in Jordan. We also keep the pressure on to compile and approve the Regulations of the Renewable Energy Law of 2010, particularly Article-10, which gives the individuals and groups the ability to sell the electricity over-runs back to the power grid at competitive prices.

All of this has been bright and peachy, pointing positively to a multi-fauceted movement towards solar energy production as a way to give Jordan its energy independence… Until we saw this: Regional Solar Grid in Jordan Valley with Israeli cooperation. (Jordanian online news outlets reported on it as well, followed by an uproar on social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter).

Reasons of uproar? some complex, and some simple.

Where there is a public sentiment supporting denaturalization of the relationships with the Jewish State, this project comes as a very surprising step towards naturalization with Israel.

Jordan and the Jewish State, which have signed a peace treaty in October 26, 1994, have had strained relationships recently, especially due to the Right-Winged policies adopted by the Netanyahu government, and their stance about the two-state solution, the continuation of settlement policies in the West Bank, the Apartheid wall, the Transfer Project, Jerusalem de-Arabification, and, and (you get the idea).

This Peace Treaty has not brought about the Peace we all dream of reaching, and many scholars point to the Israeli policies (and mere presence) as one of the reasons of the Arab Populous Revolt, known as the Arab Spring, against their oppressive governments, which (Arab governments) are viewed by many of Arabs as having blanket support of Israel and its racists policies.

As for Jordan, Article-6 of this Treaty dealt with rightful allocation of water resources from Jordan and Yarmouk Rivers. However, this allocation have not seen the light of day due to the mistrust of all parties in the Jordan River basin, along with chronological drought and a population explosion in the last 15 years.

All of this, puts in focus and in question the politics of creating a “regional” solar power plant. And regional here means nothing less than Israel’s “security” and “interests” being forefront in such project, with ability to divert and hoard the project resources based on its own policies, not its partners/counterparts. All is needed is one switch, and boom, we are off-the-grid.

Having energy INdependence does NOT mean having energy INTER-dependence. We advocate an all Jordanian solution to the energy crisis. An all Jordanian solution means building the plant on a Jordanian land, with Jordanian control, and meeting the Jordanian needs.

I refuse to believe that the issue is financial, since there are many funding agencies that see in the stable political environment in Jordan as a positive reason to invest $100s of Millions for renewable energy in areas that does not see a cloud but a few days a year.

If Europe and US funding is tied to mutual project with the Jewish State, then we prefer going back to our tents and living off the land.

UPDATE: A Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources spokesperson came out today refuting the reports of this project. However, the case still remains for an expedited clean renewable energy policy that serves Jordan immediate needs, and sticking to the transparency of the government dealings in large scale projects. و لذا اقتضى التنويه

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Comments»

1. Fiona Woo - October 1, 2012

Thanks for this interesting piece. Last week the World Future Council was in Amman to discuss the energy transition in Jordan at a workshop organised by the Heinrich Böll Foundation and EDAMA (read our blog post on the topic here: http://power-to-the-people.net/2012/09/what-does-the-german-energy-transition-mean-for-jordan/). It is clear that a switch to solar PV is a clever move, given the decreasing tecchnology costs as well as the abundance of sunshine you’ve mentioned. However, while investments do play a large role it is policies that actually drive the energy transition, as evidenced by the German experience.

Jordan has huge potential that can be realised only with political will and good governance that facilitate not only the kind of large-scale project as the solar plant you’ve mentioned but also decentralised generation. That is, regardless of whether financial or political considerations were the reason for this regional solar plant, Jordan needs a regulatory framework that enables a decentralised approach that engages a critical mass of citizens. This kind of energy transition will result in regional value creation and, thus, socio-economic benefits across the country.


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