Jordan: Azraq refugee camp, 3 universities unveil solar plans

Jordan’s Azraq refugee camp, located in an inhospitable part of the desert in northern Jordan, is set to install a 6 MW solar PV park to help meet its energy needs.

The Azraq refugee camp was initially used to host displaced Iraqis and Kuwaitis during the first Gulf War. It was reopened in April 2014 to accommodate Syrian refugees. The Jordanian government and the United Nations’ High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) worked hard to turn this rocky part of the desert into a home for up to 130,000 refugees, equipped with facilities like schools, health centers, play areas and sanitation.

Summer’s high temperatures and a lack of electricity have created harsh conditions inside the desert camp, however, resulting in only a fraction of the anticipated population being able to live there.

The UNHCR is planning to change conditions by installing a 6 MW solar PV park. The Azraq PV project will be built over several phases, each of which is expected to be 1 MW in size. The tender for the first 1 MW phase of the project is due on September 30. Details regarding the tender and instructions on how to apply can be found here.

44 MW of new university PV installations

In related news, the Yarmouk University, the Taffila University and the University of Jordan are also hoping to embrace energy from solar PV installations.

Specifically, the Yarmouk University, located in the northern town of Irbid, will install 3 MW of solar PV; the Tafila Umiversity, located around 180 km south west of the capital city Amman, will install 1 MW; and the University of Jordan, Jordan’s oldest and largest academic institution, also located in Amman, will build a 40 MW PV park.

pv magazine has reported before on the rush by Jordan’s universities to install PV systems at their premises. The universities have actively embraced the opportunity to minimize their energy costs either through the self-consumption of the generated energy, or by selling the generated power to third parties.

The size of the Yarmouk and the Tafilla Universities installations indicate they are net-metering systems aiming to satisfy the universities’ power needs, similar to the Ahlia University, the Zaytouna University, the Petra University and others.

In contrast, the 40 MW University of Jordan PV project willsell generated power via a power purchase agreement (PPA) contract, similar to the 85 MW PV project planned by the Al albays University.

The tenders for the Yarmouk University and the Taffila University projects expired on September 13, while the University of Jordan PV tender expired on September 10.

Net metering rush

At the end of August, JEPCO, one of Jordan’s power distribution companies that serves around three million people in the cities of Amman, Salt, Zarka and Madaba, called on Jordan’s citizens and institutions to embrace renewable energy by making use of incentives – including net metering, zero customs and sales tax for PV systems – offered by the state.

To date, JEPCO said it has provided "support to over 1,000 electricity-generating renewable energy projects (standard net energy metering) at a capacity over 45 MW and a cost of around JD55 million." These are projects already installed by JEPCO subscribers "wishing to switch to renewable energy in order to reduce their monthly bills, through connecting the projects with the national company’s grid."

In addition, a local source told pv magazine, "There are an extra 100 MW net metering projects at different phases of progress, some already under construction, and by the end of 2015 at least 50% or more of these projects will be online."

In July, pv magazine reported Jordan is ready to expand its net metering scheme to rural areas of the country.

Edited by Becky Beetz