Published on February 12th, 2015 | by Aisha Abdelhamid3
Jordan Transitioning 6,000 Mosques to Solar Energy
With global oil and gas prices fluctuating wildly and fossil fuel sources both reaching peak and pariah status, the Kingdom of Jordan has turned to renewable energy alternatives. Already a leader in the Arab world for utility-scale solar power production, Jordan’s residential and commercial rooftop sectors are ready to explode in the wake of the Kingdom’s exciting announcement to transition all of Jordan’s mosques to solar power.
In an interview with The Jordan Times this week, an official of Jordan’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources detailed the new solar mosque initiative. Ahmad Abu Saa, of the Renewable Energy Department at the ministry announced that photovoltaic solar systems for power generation will be installed at the Kingdom’s mosques under a project to be implemented in the course of this year.
Carried out in collaboration with Jordan’s Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, this exciting and pioneering project entails installing rooftop solar systems on all of the country’s 6,000 mosques. The project will start by covering 120 mosques, and will proceed beyond that, “Based on the funds that we secure,” said Abu Saa. “The more finance we get the faster the project will be implemented. Some of the mosques will get such systems this year.”
Jordan’s High Energy Prices Match High Demand
Jordan imports about 96 percent of its energy needs every year and has seen ever-increasing electricity rates to match the continually rising rate of consumption. With prices anticipated to rise even higher in the years to come, a nuclear power plant is under construction in Jordan, and many new electricity power plants are in the works.
With high electricity demands to keep worshippers comfortable for the five daily prayers, one mosque alone can expect to pay an electricity bill of JD1,000 a month. wanting to reduce the utility bills, residents in Amman’s Tlaa Al Ali neighbourhood recently decided to transition their local mosque to solar to help offset the rising cost of mosque operations. Worshippers donated around JD16,000 to the Abu Ghaweileh Mosque for a photovoltaic solar system and installation.
Imam Nidal Alayyan spoke recently to The Jordan Times, explaining that a group of young engineers living in the neighbourhood launched the Abu Ghaweileh Mosque initiative. Alayyan stated that the effort to raise the funds took around two years, but since April of 2014 the mosque’s lighting and air conditioning are now running on solar power.
Alayyan also added that the mosque is now selling surplus power to Jordan’s main grid. Introducing solar-friendly regulations in 2012, the government of Jordan paved the way for net-metering. Under this scheme, residents and commercial businesses who transition to solar energy can sell their excess back to the country at a rate of 125 Jordanian fils per kilowatt-hour (kwh).
Campaigning for Solar Awareness in Jordan’s Neighborhoods
Not only mosques are transitioning to solar in Jordan. Just this week as well, another solar campaign has been launched to encourage wider adoption of residential rooftop solar power systems. Initiated by Abu Mahjoob Creative Productions Company in cooperation with Jordan’s Energy and Mineral Resources Regulatory Commission and USAID, the campaign is scheduled to take place over the next three months.
Announced today in The Jordan Times, the campaign is targeting households with monthly consumption rates over 600 kilowatt-hours. According to campaign statements, households over this level of consumption may reduce their electricity bill by as much as 80 percent.
Jordan Sets a Strong Example in the Region
These pioneering ventures in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan are both visionary and very timely. Hopefully they will encourage other countries in the region to seriously consider pursuing residential rooftop solar initiatives. Speaking to The Jordan Times last year in February, previous Awqaf Minister Abdul Salam Abbadi noted that the government spends over JD50 million a year on mosques. These funds pay for the full range of expenses, from building new mosques, performing renovation work, paying the salaries of imams and preachers, and of course to pay for the mosque’s water and electricity bills.
Jordan’s new initiative to transition the country’s existing mosques to solar also sets an excellent example for new mosques being constructed. According to official records, around 150 new mosques are being built each year in the kingdom.
Positioned to gain great advantage from the high degree of sunshine Jordan regularly enjoys, Abu Saa points out the economic advantage of over 6,000 mosques running on solar energy. “Mosques use large amounts of electricity,” he said, “and the project will help to significantly reduce their electricity bills as around 300 days in the year are sunny.”
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