With no appreciable amounts of oil or natural gas, Jordan, like Syria is a Middle East anomaly when it comes to its fossil fuel rich neighbours like Saudi Arabia and Israel. But new energy is blowing into Jordan.
Financing is all in for what will be the Middle East’s largest wind farm – a 117 megawatt Tafila Wind Farm to be built about 100 miles south of Amman.
The consortia of investors released the news that the Tafila Wind Farm is fully financed to its expected cost of $290 million. The plant will start power delivery in 2014 and is expected to be fully operational by 2015 and at that point producing some 3 percent of the country’s energy needs.
Jordan Wind Project Company (JWPC) will run the development of the wind farm. The JWPC is a co-development between the companies InfraMed (50 percent), Masdar (31 percent) and EP Global Energy (19 percent).
“Our country has suffered from a lack of domestic conventional energy sources and from serious challenges in security of energy imports. Jordan, however, has abundant renewable resources, and this will be the first and a showcase for many such projects to come,” added Judeh.said Samer Judeh, chairman of JWPC.
When operating, Tafila will produce about 400 GWh of electricity each year and with it displace 235,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year.
InfraMed, is the largest investment vehicle dedicated to infrastructure in the Mediterranean area. Company CEO, Frederic Ottavy, said: “The Tafila project is responding to Jordan’s pressing energy needs while adapting to the country’s unique fossil fuel resource situation, water scarcity and wind abundance. InfraMed and other leading international players’ involvement demonstrates the project’s economic viability and sets a benchmark for the future implementation of projects under the country’s clean energy law.”
This project is a natural step toward Jordan’s energy and economic security. Today, countries in the region are increasingly integrating wind and solar power as commercially viable solutions to address long-term energy security.
“Jordan is a prime example of where the cost of renewable energy is lower than conventional sources of power generations,” aid Dr Sultan al Jaber, CEO of Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company.
Tafila is the first wind-power project to be developed under Jordan’s Renewable and Energy Efficiency Law passed in 2010. The law calls for the country to obtain 7 per cent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2015, rising to 10 per cent by 2020.
When fully developed, it will account for almost 10 per cent of Jordan’s 2020 renewable energy target. To reach its target, Jordan enacted a feed-in tariff for renewable energy added to the power grid.
Often viewed as the fastest way to scale-up renewable energy deployment, the country’s feed-in tariff is the first of its kind in the Arab world. Israel, next door has offered attractive, if not complicated feed-in tariffs for the last several years.
The Tafila site shown on Google Maps in the figure about (See A in Red) is located on the Great Rift Valley – a corridor for millions of bird migrations from Africa to Europe and back again every year. It’s one of the worlds major flyway bottlenecks.
An environmental impact assessment on this site has been done (links to PDF here), but paid for by the organization financing the wind plant construction.
Looking at data supplied by an Israeli tagged Griffin, the report researchers were able to conclude that the wind farm will probably affect the success of these birds which fly to the Dana nature reserve nearby. Kestrals, and buzzards are at risk too.
Jordanians as a whole have little environmental awareness and respect for wild animals. Wild birds are often hunted as game. We have personal reports of violence towards pets as common place. We hope that activists in Jordan are asking the right questions before this project begins.
Israel next door has an intensive community that tags and monitors birds from Europe all the way to Africa. Watch Green Prophet to see what they have to say about Jordan’s windy ambitions.