Construction to begin on solar cooling project in Jordan

Construction on Jordan’s first project to use concentrated sunlight to power air conditioners is scheduled to commence next month, a government official said on Saturday. The pilot project is intended to demonstrate how the exploitation of solar power can protect the environment, cut down energy consumption and encourage the use of renewable energy resources, Ministry of Environment Spokesperson Isa Shboul said.

The project will be implemented under an agreement signed recently between the Ministry of Environment and the German Agency for International Cooperation, he added.

The initiative will be funded by Germany’s federal environment ministry at a cost of 3.295 million euros.

"It will be the first of its kind in Jordan and the region to use concentrated solar-thermal power for cooling systems," Shboul told The Jordan Times.

The initiative aims to reduce the amount of energy used for cooling purposes, the official said, citing studies that indicate that solar air conditioning can slash air conditioning costs by up to 60 per cent.

The project is expected to be operational in 2015, according to Shboul.

The Kingdom, which has 330 days of sunshine per year, has one of the highest annual daily averages of solar irradiance in the world, according to environmentalists, who have repeatedly called for using Jordan’s abundant solar power for energy generation.

Renewable energy currently contributes less than 1 per cent of Jordan’s energy mix, according to experts, who indicate that the Kingdom has significant amounts of untapped wind and solar energy, with wind speeds as high as 7.5 metres per second, up to 11.5 metres per second in hilly areas, and direct solar radiation equalling 5.5 kilowatt hours per square metre per day.

Jordan imports 98 per cent of its energy needs, at a cost of 25 per cent of its gross domestic product annually, according to officials. The national energy bill is expected to reach a record high of over JD4 billion this year.