Jordan goes green
Amman - It is obvious that Jordan is going green. From solar-powered lights and solar plants to wind turbines across the country, Jordan is trying to alleviate soaring fuel costs. Several projects were launched to address an unprecedented budget deficit and use resources more efficiently.
The kingdom’s energy sector will undergo significant changes in the next 15 years in line with the Energy Master Plan, which is expected to inject about $18 billion of public and private-sector capital into the effort.
The plan is to cover all the energy sector’s activities through utilisation of natural resources to electricity tariff levels, including energy demand, power sector development, gas distribution, oil refining and, most importantly, renewable energy.
A recent addition is the solar-powered electric vehicle (EV) charging station programme, which is to be operational by the end of the year.
The number of privately owned cars in Jordan is expected to total 1.35 million at the end of 2015, an increase of about 65,000 over 2014, according to an official at the Driver and Vehicle License Department.
Amman, home to nearly 4 million people, will accommodate about 25,000 additional cars in 2015, bringing the number of vehicles in the city to 510,000, the official said.
Wissam Rabadi, chief of party at the Jordan Competitiveness Programme (JCP) in the US Agency for International Development (USAID), said Jordanian-American investor Said Al-Hallaj is setting up charging stations. Hallaj is co-founder and chief executive officer of AllCell Technologies, a US company.
Rabadi said Hallaj set up NETenergy, which has signed a deal with the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM), to set up charging stations in Jordan.
Hallaj said his goal is to “deploy ten solar charging stations in the next few months and then deploy 3,000 charging stations with 30 MWp [megawatt peak] solar PV system over the next ten years”.
“Jordan’s government has passed laws that provide full tax and fee exemption for zero-emission vehicles,” he said. “In addition, driving electric cars near 120 kilometres costs around $2.50, as opposed to nearly $10 for gasoline-engine cars.
“Because of the savings, we believe that electric cars will be popular in Jordan.”
GAM signed a deal in May with Noor Jordan Transport Company, which operates Taxi Moumayaz, to use environmentally friendly vehicles. The firm is to replace 300 cars with hybrid vehicles and up to 100 cars with electric vehicles at a value of $13 million.
Ayman Smadi, executive director of GAM’s transport and traffic department, said the agreement is part of the municipality’s vision of protecting the environment.
Currently, electric cars are used by the prime minister, the lower house speaker, senate president and other top-ranking officials.
“We’d like to see more electric cars on the road and we’ll continue to exert every means to work with all concerned authorities on amending legislation to allow for more efficient use of the charging stations,” Rabadi said.
Hallaj said he plans to “work closely with the private and public sectors in Jordan to highlight the environmental and economic benefits of zero-emission vehicles and help grow the EV market in Jordan”.
Jordan has more than 330 sunny days a year. Daily average solar irradiance on a horizontal surface ranges from 5-7 kilowatts per square metre, one of the highest figures in the world.
“Our solar EV charging network will be completely powered by solar energy and will lead to zero emission by the thousands of vehicles that benefit from charging from the network,” Hallaj said.
“We expect the demand to pick up once a robust and cost-effective EV charging network is deployed in Jordan and to see the numbers of electric cars grow to thousands per year in the next three to five years,” he added.
Each charging station requires a battery pack of 6,000-8,000 cells, Hallaj said. Initially, each station will have a capacity to charge five cars per day. When the project is completed, the stations will be able to charge 10,000 vehicles a day.
The project follows successful testing in 2011 of an off-grid solar car charging station in Amman.