Jordan's solar tender bears fruit

Qatar’s Nebras Power, alongside partners Diamond Generating Europe (a wholly owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corporation) and KAWAR Group, a Jordanian company, have signed a finance agreement for Jordan’s 52.5 MW solar PV Shams Ma’an power plant.

The finance agreement is for 18 years and Nebras Power will own 35% of the project, Diamond Generating Europe 35% and Kawar Group 30%.

Present at the signing, which took place on January 18 at the prime ministry building in Jordan’s capital Amman, was Japan’s newly re-elected prime minister Shinzo Abe.

The financing of the project has been jointly overseen by a group of international banks and export credit agencies, including Japan for International Cooperation (JBIC), Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI), Mizuho Bank and Standard Charter Bank.

Commenting on the signing, Nebras Power’s chairman Fahad Hamad Al-Mohannadi said: "Nebras Power continues with its commitment to expand internationally in a conservative manner while sticking to its core areas of expertise. The importance of this project comes from being the first project and investment for Nebras Power and it is a confirmation of the company’s policy of diversifying the fuel in its future investments."

Khalid M. Jolo, CEO of Nebras Power, added: "Nebras Power will strongly focus on building its portfolio in a balanced manner, which will include renewables."

The 52.5 MW PV plant

The Shams Ma’an PV plant will be financed, owned and operated by Nebras Power, along with its partners.

Shams Ma’an Power Generation company has already signed a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with the National Electric Power Company (NEPCO), which is Jordan’s publicly owned power transmission company. In July last year, the company signed an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract with US-based First Solar, which will also supply the project with its advanced thin film PV modules.

Jordan’s solar PV success: one off or continuous?

The Shams Ma’an 52.5 MW project is the result of the first round of renewable energy auctions held by the Jordanian Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, which in total has approved 12 PV projects of various sizes and 200 MW cumulative installed capacity (the so-called round one or stage one auction has also approved two wind projects).

All 12 PV projects will sign a 20-year PPA with NEPCO at a price negotiated for each project separately. The ministry has set a ceiling for the tariff attributed to each renewable energy technology. In 2012, the ceiling tariff for the sale of electricity from solar PV and wind plants was $0.169 and $0.12 per kWh respectively. All round one PV plants have received the $0.169 per kWh tariff, apart from the 52.5 MW project, which received $0.148 per kWh.

Jordan is also running a second tender for the submission of expressions of interest under the direct proposal submission process (round two). The deadline for the second tender has since been postponed several times, with the latest deadline set on February 10, 2015. Round two, Jordan’s Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Mohammad Hamed revealed, will consist of four 50 MW PV plants.

A preliminary list of qualified expressions of interest for PV projects and a list of conditionally qualified bids for PV projects under round two are published here. Both lists impress with the wide geographical scope of the bidders.

A third tender was launched in 2014 but the ministry later cancelled it altogether.

The Quweira 65 MW-75 MW plant

In November, Jordan’s government announced that it had secured the Quweira site in the southern part of the country for the construction of a separate 65 MW to 75 MW PV plant. The energy ministry published a call for the submission of applications concerning the project’s EPC contract prequalification. The deadline was December 18 and the ministry aims to select the prequalified application shortly, then invite the prequalified applicants to submit their tenders from March until May, finally selecting the successful bidder in July and the with a view to having the plant operational by April 2016.

The ministry notes, however, that "these dates are tentative only and are subject to receiving the applications in time, the number of applications received, the quality of the applications" and several other factors. Given the significant delays experienced with rounds one and two, the Quweira solar plant is expected to become operational much later.

Jordan has a target to install 600 MW of solar PV and 1200 MW of wind capacity by 2020. Electricity production in Jordan currently depends on imported oil and natural gas. In 2011, 97% of Jordan’s energy was imported and energy expenditure accounted for 20% of the country’s GDP, the energy ministry said.

The January issue of the pv magazine featured an in-depth examination of Jordan’s energy sector and solar PV boom which analyzed the reasons behind Jordan’s energy investment rush.