Construction of the Shams Ma’an project, a 52.5 MW photovoltaic (PV) power plant, is set to start at the beginning of 2015, with electricity expected to start flowing by early 2016.
The $160 million facility will deliver 160 million kWh of electricity per year, or roughly 1 percent of Jordan’s annual energy output. It’s being built by a consortium that includes Mitsubishi Corporation’s subsidiary Diamond Generating Europe, Nebras Power, which is owned by Qatar’s Electricity and Water Company and Qatar Petroleum, and Jordan’s Kawar Group. “We expect commercial operation within the first couple of months of 2016,” Kawar Energy CEO Hanna Zaghloul told Venture.
First Solar is the project’s Engineering, Procurement, and Construction contractor. The US firm, which will also provide its operation and maintenance expertise, previously built Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which has a 13 MW capacity. First Solar’s Technical Director for the Middle East Matthew Merfert was recently quoted as saying his firm’s thin film modules would “yield up to 8 percent more energy than an array or plant of the same power output rating using silicon-based modules, due to the high temperatures on site.”
According to Zaghloul, the project will supply the country with low-cost energy, selling to the grid at 105 fils per kWh, compared to the 120 fils agreement that other developers who qualified in the first round signed with NEPCO.
Although the project was first announced at the World Economic Forum in 2009, it was in March 2014 that Shams Ma’an Power Generation Co. finally signed the Power Purchase Agreement with NEPCO. Since the announcement, the project experienced a few setbacks, such as the lack of a legal framework to base an MoU with the Ministry of Energy on. “At that time, the Ministry of Energy got excited about solar projects but they had no system in place to address them, how to evaluate the proposal, and what procedures to follow,” explained Zaghloul. “Then in 2012, they endorsed the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Law and from there on, things started moving forward.”
Shams Ma’an initially agreed with Ma’an Development Company (MDC) to allocate 2 million square meters to develop the project, in addition to another 5,000-square-meter piece of land to evaluate different technologies for solar PVs. Based on that field, he explained that they we were able to select the technology they wanted to apply. But after concluding the studies, the government decided to take the land from MDC and substitute it with another, which meant that they had to do the studies all over again.
In the future, the power plant could be expanded to produce 100 MW, said Zaghloul, but it all depends on the grid’s capacity. “We have originally signed an MoU for 100 MW, to be built in two phases depending on the grid’s capacity. I hope that we will get the chance to carry out the second 50.”