Jordan to Expand Solar Rooftop Energy Program

General view of Amman. Photo by Nati Shohat /Flash90
General view of Amman. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Jordan is going green, and is planning to cover the roofs of mosques throughout the country with solar panels in order to generate electricity which will be fed into the national grid, helping to reduce the country’s substantial fossil fuel bill. The program will cost $5.6 million, a report Tuesday morning on Israel Radio said.

Like Israel, Jordan has no oil reserves, but unlike Israel it has no natural gas either, which means that it has to import all its oil – a substantial expense for an economy that is significantly smaller than Israel’s. The country has been experimenting with solar energy, and the mosque project is the most ambitious one yet.

There are some 6,000 mosques in Jordan, and a pilot program of 400 that was implemented last year has been a resounding success, said government officials, with the mosques covering all of their energy costs and producing more than necessary, with the excess electricity sold to the national grid.

In Israel, the Public Security Ministry announced last month that it would begin a pilot program that would see solar energy panels placed on the rooftops of police stations and prisons to generate electricity. According to Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, the project will provide “green energy that will save money for the taxpayer by reducing the cost of electricity for the Ministry.”

The project, which was dubbed “Blue Sky,” will include police stations, prisons, firehouses, and other buildings under Ministry jurisdiction. The objective is to supply each building with its own electricity, with the excess sold to the Israel Electric Company. In the pilot program, solar systems that can generate up to 750 kilowatts of electricity will be installed on the rooftops of 15 police stations. After the initial investment is paid off – via the reduction in electricity costs – the Ministry will use the “profits” to expand the program.

Israel generally has sunny weather throughout the year, but the adoption of solar energy has been very spotty. According to electricity experts, the current amount of solar generated electricity in Israel is some 6 percent of the total used in the country – a far cry from world leader Germany, where about 20 percent of the power supply comes from solar systems. The Israeli government has set a goal of producing 10 percent of the country’s electricity needs by 2020.