Over the last of couple of months, voices highlighting the threat of an energy crisis in Jordan are getting louder. The situation is desperately alarming they say and whilst they’re right to be concerned about the country’s heavy energy dependency – their calls to embrace shale oil and nuclear power are shortsighted.
Following the huge disruptions and attacks on pipelines carrying gas from Egypt to Jordan, there have been growing concerns about Jordan’s energy situation. The energy-poor country relies heavily on imports and depends on Egypt for 90% of its gas, which is used to generate more than 80% of its power. The impacts of the disruptions have also not come cheap. Some estimate it has cost the country over US$1 billion to deal with energy gap and that was back in October so the amount is bound to have increased.
Jordan clearly needs an energy solution. But rather than jumping to shortsighted solutions such as exploiting their shale oil reserves or nuclear power, they country needs to think long term and start building a renewable energy infrastructure. Energy experts in the region have been urging Arab nations to embrace the high potential of solar energy and environmentalists continue to call for an open and public debate on energy developments and particularly nuclear plans.
Talking to the Jordan Times, environmental campaigner Sufyan Tell said: “The entire world is running away from nuclear energy: Germany, Italy, Sweden and Japan are not only suspending their nuclear programmes but laying legal framework to prevent the construction of future reactors. Why are we in Jordan running towards nuclear without dialogue?”
Campaigners have urged the Jordanian government to abandon their nuclear plans and channel their investment into increasing the country’s renewable energy instead. Current targets set the contribution of renewables to the energy mix at just 10 percent by 2020. In contrast, there are plans to produce 14% of their energy mix from oil shale by 2020.
Whilst protests against nuclear power have highlighted environmental problems as well as concerns over costs and safety, campaigners have been relatively silent about the similar environmental concerns of exploiting shale oil. As I noted in a previous post, shale oil is expensive, energy intensive and damaging to the environment- it has also been linked to water pollution and water shortages. Therefore, an open and honest debate about Jordan’s energy plans and their environmental impacts as well as renewables alternatives is desperately needed.
:Image via Paala/flickr.
For more on energy developments in Jordan see: