Under the patronage of the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, Hala Zawati, Orange Jordan officially inaugurated its solar farms project on November 21 at the company's solar power plant in Na'our, with the attendance of Telecommunications Regulatory Commission's Chief Commissioner, Dr. Ghazi Jbour, Chairman of Orange Jordan, Dr. Shabib Ammari, Deputy CEO of Orange Group Gervais Pelissier, CEO of Orange Middle East and Africa, Alioune Ndiaye, Deputy CEO and COO of Orange Middle East and Africa , Jerome Henique, CEO of Orange Jordan, Thierry Marigny, Deputy Chief Executive Officer/Chief Financial and Strategy Officer at Orange Jordan, Raslan Deiranieh, in addition to the President of Kawar Group/Chairman of Kawar energy, Karim Kawar.
The ceremony was also attended by French Ambassador HE. Véronique Vouland- Aneini, in addition to the General Manager of Irbid Electricity Company, General Manager of the Electricity Distribution Co EDCO, General Manager of the National Electricity Company and the General Manager of Samra Electric Power Co.
Minister Zawati said during the ceremony, "we are inaugurating a new important project through which the company seeks to reduce the costs of electricity consumption and go green. The project contributes to our commitment to achieve our strategic goal of increasing local energy sources, and reflects the synergy of public and private sectors, our keenness and commitment to realize His Majesty King Abdullah's directives to move towards sustainable energy that promotes self-reliance, contributes to achieving sustainable development goals, and reduces operational costs by increasingly using clean energy".
The biggest electricity-generating consumer project using wheeling is among 199 electricity-generating projects with a total capacity of 162 MW, said Zawati, noting that wheeling and net metering projects have grown in various sectors in the Kingdom including the industrial, commercial, domestic, government institutions, places of worship, schools, hotels and hospitals, and now telecommunications.
According to the Zawati, the number of consumer systems connected to the grid using net metering amounts to 14168, with a total capacity of 305 MW, and this brings the total number of consumer projects to 14473 with a capacity of 467 MW.
Moreover, she highlighted the importance of the project in reducing the operating costs at Orange Jordan, hoping that this will lead to reducing the costs of the services the company provides. The Minister praised the efforts of workers, employees, financiers, and partners who contributed to the success of this project and the institutions and government departments that facilitated the completion of the project.
Zawati shared the latest developments in the energy sector, indicating that power generated from renewable sources went up from less than 1% in 2014 to 10% in 2018. She expects the rate to reach 20% in 2020/2021. Today, she added "the national power grid receives more than 1,423 MW of renewable energy, 1,051 MW from solar and 372 MW from wind resources, and is expected to reach the 2,400 MW goal in 2021 instead of 2025 as originally planned and announced in 2015."
Orange Jordan's Chairman, Dr. Ammari said that the project, first signed in 2016 under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II and the former French President François Hollande, is in line with the Royal vision for the national energy sector to rely more on clean energy, adding that the project was executed in a record time, as it has been operational for the past 9 months, enabling the company to use generated solar energy to cover almost all of its energy needs.
The project is crucial to Jordan's energy sector, Dr. Ammari added, saying that the project is in line with the national strategy for energy. As one of the countries that signed the Paris Agreement, Jordan is making immense efforts to reduce CO2 emissions to avoid the future impacts of climate change on the Jordanian economy and society. Orange Jordan will greatly contribute to the national efforts to preserve the environment and the Kingdom's goal of generating 20% of its power from renewable energy by 2020.
During the inauguration ceremony, Marigny briefed the attendees on the execution phases of the project, noting that the three solar farms started production this year to cover approximately 75% of the company's energy needs. The first farm is located at the training center affiliated to the company in Amman with a capacity of 7 MW providing 12% of the company's power need, the second station at al-Khalidiya area in Al-Mafraq governorate with a capacity of 7.5 MW providing 13% of the company's power need, and the third at Mafraq Development Area with a capacity of 22 MW providing 50% of the company's power need.
Marigny pointed out that Orange Jordan's solar farm project is the largest solar energy project to and from the private sector on wheeling regime in Jordan, as it falls in line with Orange Jordan's strategy to move towards clean energy, and Orange Group's global commitment to lead the change towards environmentally friendly practices.
Moreover, Marigny explained that keeping up with the latest technologies and introducing them to the Jordanian market requires more energy. Therefore, the company's electricity consumption is expected to increase by three times upon the future introduction of 5G technologies, which may lead to more financial restraints in case we use electricity at current prices. Renewable energy will help the company in maintaining the leadership of the dynamic and important ICT sector.
Marigny also highlighted the project's great social impacts since it provides training and employment opportunities for the youth in the establishment and support of the Jordanian-German Center of Excellence for solar energy in Mafraq stressing: "As part of our corporate social responsibility, we strive to increase job opportunities across the Kingdom for development. The company's contribution to the establishment of the center helped prepare young people to enter the job market by developing their skills in the required fields and providing them with the necessary training in compliance with the latest international standards".
Karim Kawar, Chairman of Kawar Energy Company added: "We are proud to have implemented the Kingdom's first and largest PV solar project that is connected to the National Electric Power Company's grid. The construction of the largest solar energy wheeling project in Jordan will certainly make Orange a world leader in renewable energy in the telecommunications sector