Masdar invests in Jordan

Masdar Clean Energy has announced its participation in Jordan’s first major wind farm, marking its first renewable energy investment in the Middle East outside the UAE.

The Jordan Wind Project Company (JWPC), in which Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy firm owns a 31 per cent stake, yesterday announced a financing agreement to begin construction of a 38-turbine, 117 megawatts wind farm, which will be located in the southern governorate of Tafila.

Last week, Jordan’s government approved the project with the signing of a 20-year power purchase agreement, the country’s first such renewable energy contract.

The electricity generated by the facility will be sold to Jordan’s National Electric Power Company (Nepco).

The remainder of JWPC shares are held by the Euro-Mediterranean fund InfraMed, which has a 50 per cent stake, and Cyprus’s EP Global Energy, which has 19 per cent.

Upon its completion, the Tafila facility will produce about 400 gigawatt hours of electricity a year, displacing 235,000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually.

The wind farm is expected to increase Jordan’s total power capacity by 3 per cent.

Jordan is increasingly looking to diversify its energy supply mix because it has few domestic energy resources and it faces high oil and gas prices.

Furthermore, its electricity demand is forecast to grow by 5 per cent a year until 2020.

Jordan has a per capita average electricity usage of 2237 kilowatt-hours, according to the ERC.

Twelve months ago, the country became the first in the region to launch feed-in tariffs for renewable energy sources.

Jordan’s Electricity Regulatory Commission said buy-back rates of 120 Jordanian fils per kilowatt-hour would apply for solar-produced electricity, and 85 fils per kilowatt-hour for wind power.

Fawaz Al Muharrami, Masdar’s head of project delivery, said JWPC would announce the supplier of the wind turbines in the coming weeks.

The project is scheduled to break ground by the end of next March, he said.

Delivery of power is slated to begin next year, building up to full commercial operations in 2015.

“For wind projects you need to be very selective about locations,” Mr Al Muharrami said. “For projects this size, the Levant region and Egypt are especially suitable, given their higher wind speeds.”

JWPC is Masdar’s third wind project.

The UAE firm owns a 20 per cent stake in the London Array wind farm in the Thames Estuary. It has also developed the Port Victoria Wind Power Project in the Seychelles, a project funded by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development on behalf of the Seychelles government.

The Jordanian project will cost an estimated US$290 million.

A consortium will contribute 77 per cent of the funding. It is led by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, and the consortiums members include European Investment Bank, Eksport Kredit Fonden, the Dutch development bank FMO, the Opec Fund for International Development, and Europe Arab Bank.

The project’s shareholders will contribute the rest of the funding on a proportionate basis.

Masdar is conducting studies on potential wind farm projects in the UAE, according to Mr Al Muharrami.

While areas such as the Northern Emirates enjoy high wind speeds, the installation of turbines is often problematic because of the mountainous terrain.