By installing solar panels on the country’s mosques, Jordan may be answering more than a few prayers uttered in response to rising electricity costs and a need to diversify the kingdom’s energy portfolio.
The sun sets behind Al-hussein Mosque in Amman, Jordan.
AMMAN, Jordan — Like most countries throughout the Middle East and around the world, Jordan relies heavily on crude oil and products. Yet a new initiative announced by Jordan’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources will see all 6,000 of the kingdom’s mosques go solar by the end of this year.
The new project is in collaboration with Jordan’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs. It’s one part of a five-year program to decrease the kingdom’s reliance on crude oil while diversifying its energy portfolio — including boosting renewable energy sources, like solar power.
Ahmad Abu Saa, a spokesman for Jordan’s energy ministry, told The Jordan Times, “Mosques use large amounts of electricity and the project will help to significantly reduce their electricity bills as around 300 days in the year are sunny.”
Mosques can be major electricity consumers, as Muslims observe five daily prayers throughout the day. In addition to being lit, mosques in Jordan are often air-conditioned around the clock to ensure worshippers’ comfort. According to Global Construction Review, the kingdom’s mosques spend up to $1,400 a month on electricity bills.
As Jordan imports 96 percent of its energy, installing solar panels on the country’s existing 6,000 mosques marks a huge step away from crude-based energy, especially since the country builds an additional 150 mosques each year.
The Jordan Times reports that 120 mosques will be outfitted with photovoltaic (PV) panels to start, according to Abu Saa, then “tenders will be soon floated to install such systems at other mosques across the country.”
“Based on the funds that we secure, we will go ahead with the project. The more finance we get the faster the project will be implemented. Some of the mosques will get such systems this year,” Abu Saa told The Jordan Times, calling the initiative a “pioneering venture in the Middle East.”
In 2012, Jordan introduced a net metering program, which allows solar energy producers to sell the energy they produce back to the government. This is particularly important for anyone installing solar panels almost anywhere in the world, as it allows users to recoup some of their investment.
Samer Zawaydeh, a Jordan-based freelance engineering consultant, who is also assistant director at the U.S.-based Association of Energy Engineers, told PV Magazine, “The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Law 13 (REEEL 13), issued 2012, allows any electricity consumer to cover 100% of their electricity needs by installing net-metering solar PV systems.”
Zawaydeh says the payback period in Jordan is roughly 30 to 36 months, depending on the system components.
According to PV Magazine, PV systems are currently installed “at 515 private residencies, 80 mosques, 65 businesses, 30 schools, 20 public sector buildings, nine banks, nine hospitals, eight telecommunication stations, four churches, four private universities and two farms.”