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Atlas of Jordan

Myriam Ababsa

Chapter ten - Jordan Mega Projects for Water, Energy and Transportation

Solar or Nuclear Power? Reducing Jordan’s Energy Dependence

Amélie Pinel

Texte intégral

1In 2011, Jordan imported 97% of its energy, mostly in the form of oil (61%) and natural gas (36%), mainly from Iraq and Egypt (fig. X.14). However, since February 2011 there has been an increase in acts of sabotage against the pipelines from Egypt that supply Israel and Jordan, creating a climate of insecurity in the field of energy supply and, above all, forcing the Jordanian government to invest massively to import Iraqi oil instead of Egyptian gas (about $ 3 million per day). In addition, electricity demand is expected to exceed 5,000 MW in 2020, while the demand for primary energy is expected to double []. Consequently, it seems urgent for Jordan to limit its energy dependence. But which energy should the country turn to? A nuclear power project is hard to justify; Jordan has large oil shale reserves, but extraction is a pollution-intensive activity; and solar power requires heavy investment but makes more sense in terms of sustainable development issues.

Figure X.14 — Gas Pipeline from Egypt for Jordan electrical power stations. Bahjat Aulimat; NEPCO.

Figure X.14 — Gas Pipeline from Egypt for Jordan electrical power stations. Bahjat Aulimat; NEPCO.

What are the options for tomorrow’s energy?

2Jordan’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources has not made a radical choice in favour of nuclear or solar power. It advocates an ‘energy mix’ which should reduce imported energy to 61% by 2020 through investments in nuclear power, renewable energy and oil shale.

3The nuclear project has not yet been implemented; its initial location, in a seismic zone near the Red Sea, was rejected by Israel and Saudi Arabia and the idea had to be abandoned. The new proposed site is near Mafraq to the east of Amman, where there is no water; therefore a solution needs to be found to supply water to the site. Jordan’s energy strategy plans to use nuclear energy for up to 6% of the total energy mix in 2020 and 20% in 2030. Uranium mining began in 2010 (fig. X.15).

Figure X.15 — Jordan Main Energy Projects.

Figure X.15 — Jordan Main Energy Projects.

4Renewable energy will come from three sources: solar power (300-600 MW), wind power (600-1,000 MW) and energy obtained from landfill waste (30-50 MW). The existing waste biogas plant, funded by the World Bank, in Al-Ghabawi near Amman, is expected to produce nearly 20MW by 2014. The investments necessary for all renewable energy projects are estimated at between 14 and 18 billion U.S. dollars (fig. X.16 and X.17).

Figure X.16 — Energy Mix 2008-2020.

Figure X.16 — Energy Mix 2008-2020.

Figure X.17 — Investments in Energy 2008-2020.

Figure X.17 — Investments in Energy 2008-2020.

5As far as the general population is concerned, the energy efficiency program, which aims to reduce energy consumption, mainly involves replacing light bulbs and neon lamps with low energy bulbs (including Amman’s street lights) and installing solar water heaters.

Promoting renewable energy projects

6Currently, the proportion of renewable energy is miniscule (2%). Jordan’s objective is to reach 10% by 2020, but also to reduce energy consumption by 20% through the Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency programme set out by an Act of March 2010. The Act includes two major innovations: the first is the transition from calls for tender to over-the-counter trade for companies wishing to produce renewable energy (which should simplify and expedite procedures) and the requirement for NEPCO (National Electric Power Company) to purchase this energy; the second is the creation of a fund dedicated to energy efficiency and renewable energy: the GEEREF, Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund. The structure of the fund has not yet been approved by Parliament. In 2011 the French Development Agency allocated one million dinars to participate in the financing of this renewable energy fund. The government encourages the general public to use energy-saving bulbs and solar water heaters.

Towards energy governance?

7Jordan’s energy strategy was established in 2007 and expanded in 2008. Since then, nothing has been implemented. The Fukushima disaster and the global movement to phase out nuclear power have hindered advocates for the Jordanian project to build a power plant in Mafraq. Local residents are against the project and have been supported by a number of engineers, researchers and ordinary citizens committed to preserving the environment. Safety issues and environmental concerns are put forward by opponents of nuclear energy, while the government focuses on the opportunity for Jordan to become independent for its energy supply, the stability of electricity prices and the advantage of “zero CO2 emissions”.

8Regarding renewable energy, the necessary investments require commitment from the government. However, of all the proposed programmes the only real result to date is that the Greater Amman Municipality uses low-energy light bulbs for street lighting and is developing public transport. The solar versus nuclear debate has emerged between issues concerning sustainability and energy security. However, there is a lack of donors interested in a megaproject for renewable energy, whereas three companies (Russian, Canadian and a French-Japanese consortium) have already made proposals for the reactor.

Friday in Wadi Sir.

Friday in Wadi Sir.

Th. Fournet

Table des illustrations

Titre Figure X.14 — Gas Pipeline from Egypt for Jordan electrical power stations. Bahjat Aulimat; NEPCO.
Fichier image/png, 275k
Titre Figure X.15 — Jordan Main Energy Projects.
Fichier image/jpeg, 208k
Titre Figure X.16 — Energy Mix 2008-2020.
Fichier image/jpeg, 56k
Titre Figure X.17 — Investments in Energy 2008-2020.
Fichier image/jpeg, 44k
Titre Friday in Wadi Sir.
Crédits Th. Fournet
Fichier image/jpeg, 76k


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