Jordan to upgrade its network; accommodate more renewables

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Another encouraging piece of good news concerning Jordan’s solar sector has been confirmed. Earlier this month, France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls and his Jordanian counterpart Abdullah Ensour signed an accord according in which the French Development Agency committed to providing finance to Jordan’s National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) Green Corridor project. The signing took place in Jordan’s capital city Amman and aims to inject the project with a €40 million (US$44 million) financial boost.

In June, the European Investment Bank (EIB) had also approved €88 million ($97 million) funding to Jordan with the same purpose.

The EIB sets out the Jordan Green Corridor project as being: "a multi-component program to reinforce Jordan’s high voltage electricity backbone network for integration of more renewable generation capacity and to improve reliability of supply. It consists of two new transmission lines (400 kV/150 km and 132 kV/51 km), upgrading three existing lines (132 kV/100 km) and construction of one new 400/132 kV, 1200 MVA electricity substation. The investments are reinforcing the network in the central Jordan desert area, where circumstances for renewable generation are most favorable," said the bank in a statement.

According to an EIB statement, the main objective of the project is, "to allow access of renewable electricity projects to the main consumption center of Amman, to replace present and future fossil-based generation, and to strengthen the energy transmission backbone of the country," added the EIB. Therefore, it also "contributes to the objectives of climate change mitigation and economic infrastructure development.”

Speaking to pv magazine, Samer Zawaydeh, a Jordan-based engineering consultant, said the Green Corridor project is necessary because most of the solar PV farms currently under construction (about 190 MW) are located in the Ma’an area Southern Jordan, while the main consumption point is in the capital city of Amman, in Northern Jordan.

Ma’an is the area of the 52.5 MW solar PV Shams Ma’an power plant and many of the 12 solar PV farms approved under the country’s first solar tender, with a capacity of 200 MW, currently under construction.

In May, Jordan unveiled the winners of its second solar PV tender also totaling 200 MW of projects.

The overall cost of the Green Corridor project is expected to be approximately €146 million ($161 million), said the EIB, and the operation is covered by the European Union (EU) Guarantee and the EU Political Risk Guarantee for EIB loans outside the EU.

Disbursements for each component of the EIB loan are subject to receipt of acceptable environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA), with the Green Corridor’s ESIA expected to be prepared by international consultants, with national accredited consultant as subcontractor.

Jordan has a target to install 600 MW of solar PV and 1200 MW of wind capacity by 2020. ??