Adnan Z Amin, Director-General, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA): Interview

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Adnan Z Amin, Director-General, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)

Interview: Adnan Z Amin

How would you assess the measures taken by Jordan to increase the use of renewable energy sources?

ADNAN Z AMIN: Jordan’s energy demand is rapidly increasing: by 2020 it is expected to be double what it was in 2007. To meet this need while also achieving social, economic and environmental targets, Jordan must shift away from its reliance on costly fossil fuel imports. The government recognises this, and has adjusted its energy strategy to take advantage of its tremendous domestic solar and wind renewable energy resources. Jordan aims to become a net exporter of energy by 2030 and to achieve a 10% share of renewables in its primary energy supply by 2020. It will also increase its solar energy target by more than 65% by 2020, with 500 MW expected to come on-line by the end of 2017.

Along with the National Energy Policy, these targets are steps in the right direction and are already reaping economic benefits. The renewable energy market in Jordan is growing rapidly, with projects such as Tafila Wind Farm – the first commercial utility-scale wind power project in the region – contributing 10% of the country’s renewables target. Jordan is poised to become a renewable energy hub both regionally and globally.

What more can the Jordanian government do to encourage greater investment in renewables?

AMIN: I would recommend three things. First, the government can further expand its electricity grid to absorb project output and meet targets set for 2018 and 2020. To do this it will need to establish enabling policy frameworks that can bring in the required investment. Second, it can encourage private renewable energy power generation through independent power producers and power purchase agreements. Third, it can explore further options to stimulate domestic resources for investment in renewables through private banks and corporate funding. All of these will help Jordan meet and exceed its current targets while realising economic, social and environmental benefits.

How comparable is Jordan’s renewable energy situation to that of other countries?

AMIN: Like Jordan many countries are now taking steps to boost renewable energy development thanks to the social, economic and environmental benefits it offers. Almost every country in the MENA region has a renewable energy target ranging from 5% to 15%. On a broader international level, 173 countries now have renewable energy targets, up from 43 in 2005. Jordan has demonstrated its commitment to the ongoing transition, and is among the leading countries in the MENA region in terms of ambitious renewable energy targets.

How is IRENA working with Jordan to develop an environment in which renewables can contribute a greater proportion of the energy mix?

AMIN: IRENA is working with the region to help accelerate the uptake of renewables by demonstrating the benefits of strengthened intra-regional cooperation. For example, IRENA participates in regional integration initiatives such as Pan-Arab Clean Energy (PACE), which focuses on the GCC and the Levant, including Jordan. The PACE analysis will identify opportunities to further integrate renewable energy to the grid to increase the share of renewables in the national mix.

IRENA is also involved in a manufacturing analysis being conducted in collaboration with the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, focusing on Jordan, Lebanon and the UAE, in light of their abundant renewable energy resources, potential market size and track record of solar photovoltaic, concentrated solar power and onshore wind industries.

The goal is to develop an action plan to localise the manufacturing of renewable technologies and explore opportunities to strengthen intra-regional linkages in this regard. This could increase regional competitiveness and create much-needed employment opportunities. Finally, IRENA also conducts capacity building and training programmes around the region.

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