It’s about time: Regulations come into effect in April 2013 and make solar water heaters obligatory for every new residence (including apartments) sized 150 m2 or greater in Jordan where there is ample sun. Private houses sized a minimum of 250 m2 and office spaces sized a minimum 100 m2 must also comply. Finally Jordan’s rooftops and side yards will capitalize on the nearly 330 days of sunshine that they bask in every year, just as we’ve seen in Turkey, Cyprus, Egypt and Israel.
To help households make the solar switch, the Ministry of Energy and the Jordan River Foundation have teamed up to provide $1.8 million in loans to purchase and install all necessary equipment.
In a related measure, Minister of Energy Alaa Batayneh confirmed that new regulations will allow citizens and businesses to sell surplus solar power back to the national grid. This kind of solar power will come from homes and businesses that set up solar voltaic panels as solar hot water heaters use thermal energy to heat water. They don’t create electricity.
“Under this decision, private citizens, businesses and hotels can sell [up to 5 MW of surplus power] directly to public electric utilities and we believe that this is a big step forward for the renewable energy sector,” he said in a press conference, according to The Jordan Times. The recently endorsed Renewable Energy Law had limited sell-back of privately-generated power to 1 MW.
The Electricity Regulatory Commission and the Jordan Electricity Distribution Company are setting the purchase price for citizen-sourced power. Batayneh indicated that the rate will be set at “current generation costs”.
Domestic water heating makes simple use of solar power: units usually consist of a solar collector with a water storage tank mounted right above the panel. This type of system is especially efficient: hot water rises to a roof-mounted storage tank through natural thermosiphoning, no mechanical pumping is required.
Despite affordable technology and abundant sunshine, Jordan’s use of solar water heating has been dropping overall. Industry experts blame slow adoption of this simple solar system on inadequate building regulation. The new measures are viewed as a government attempt to revive the Kingdom’s domestic conversion to renewable energy.
The Renewable Energy Law provides incentives for investment in solar and wind energy projects in order to achieve the national energy goal of having renewable sources account for 10% of Jordan’s energy mix by 2020.