Jordan switches off unsubsidized solar projects

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pv magazine has learnt the Jordanian authorities have ordered the disconnection of all unsubsidized solar plants which use the grid to connect to their energy offtaker clients.

The move has come because electricity demand has fallen off a cliff thanks to Covid-19 containment measures.

A source said yesterday, the kingdom’s Energy and Mineral Resources Commission (EMRC) instructed power distribution companies to disconnect all wheeling solar facilities due to low electrical loads.

pv magazine’s source said as much as 1.2 GW of solar generation capacity will be affected as Jordanian electric load currently ranges from around 1.7 GW in the morning to 3.4 GW at peak time. However, the secretary-general of the ministry told pv magazine no more than 200 MW of solar generation capacity had been affected and that the stoppage is temporary.

Amani Al-Azzam said: “We took this step after taking many other operational procedures just to maintain the stability of the electrical network in Jordan and to maintain the continuity of electricity supply to consumers without any interruption, as the network [is] suffering from a large decrease in electrical loads and high production from solar power plants, which cause an operational challenge. This reduction in loads resulted from the suspension of many productive sectors in Jordan from operating, due to the governmental measures [taken] to confront the spread of … Covid-19. Note that this procedure is temporary and we will reconnect these systems when the state of the electrical network improves.”

Jordan has imposed extensive measures to attempt to combat the spread of Covid-19, including border closures, quarantine in resorts paid for by the government and the closure of a slew of non-essential industries. The kingdom has also imposed a curfew on movement since March 21.

The kingdom relies on fossil fuel imports for 80% of its energy mix and will benefit from a rock-bottom oil price at the moment as regional neighbor Saudi Arabia tries to stare down petrochemical rivals the U.S. and Russia by refusing to reduce production levels despite demand tumbling around the world.

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This article was amended on 31/03/20 to reflect the call to disconnect solar plants applies only to wheeling projects which use the grid to connect to direct energy offtakers, rather than to all large scale solar plants in Jordan, as previously stated. It should be noted, however, the EMRC still has not replied to pv magazine’s enquiry.

The article was further amended on 09/04/20 to include Amani Al-Azzam’s remarks.