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Engineers call for greater focus on renewable energy

Aug 24, 2010 - McClatchy-Tribune Regional News - Mohammad Ben Hussein Jordan Times, Amman - Call for Action

The Jordan Engineers Association (JEA) on Wednesday called on the government to promote the use of alternative sources of energy to meet the rising demand for electricity.

During a meeting held at the JEA headquarters yesterday, experts highlighted the importance of adopting innovative methods to generate energy as an alternative to traditional energy sources such as fuel.

With the Kingdom facing financial pressures as a result of fluctuating oil prices, the government should adopt policies to encourage the use of alternative energy including oil shale, Sameer Sheikh, president of the JEA mining department, said during the seminar.

Experts also called on the government to facilitate investment in the mining of valuable metals and minerals.

"We have untapped resources of valuable metals and minerals scattered across the Kingdom but we are not taking advantage of them. If we can make use of the available copper and other minerals, the Kingdom's situation could be much better," Sheikh told The Jordan Times on the sidelines of the seminar.

Experts said high production costs due to rising fuel prices means that local products are no longer able to compete with products on the international market.

They highlighted the importance of tapping into oil shale as well as uranium reserves in order to provide the country with its energy requirements, adding that renewable energy could be the solution for energy-efficient industries.

Officials attributed the difficulties to tapping alternative energy sources to unfavourable global market conditions, a rise in wind energy turbine prices, challenges in obtaining project financing, and the relatively small size of the Jordanian market.

The National Energy Strategy calls for 10 per cent of the Kingdom's energy mix to come from renewable sources and 30 per cent solar water heater penetration by 2020.

The recently endorsed Renewable Energy Law established the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Fund, which currently holds JD20 million in treasury funds, to support alternative energy initiatives.

The government recently vetted international offers for the construction of a an 80-90 megawatt (MW) windfarm in Fujeij near Shobak, some 200 kilometres south of the capital. The government is also looking to establish a 40MW wind plant in Kamshah, north of Jerash, to be built on a build-operate-transfer basis with financing provided by the World Bank.

Energy imports cost the Kingdom 13 per cent of its gross domestic product in 2009, with electricity demand expected to grow 7 per cent annually over the next decade.



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