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Landmark Al Manakher power plant opened in Jordan

By Nibal Zgheib

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Jordan took a major step forward in addressing its acute energy shortages on Wednesday with the official opening of the Al Manakher power station, which was built with the support of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).

The sponsors of the plant are the US corporation AES and Japan's Mitsui Corporation.

King Abdullah of Jordan presided over the inauguration of the 240 MW plant at a ceremony attended by senior representatives of government and business, as well as the EBRD’s First Vice President Phil Bennett and OPIC's President Elizabeth Littlefield.

Jordan’s fast growing population, an influx of refugees and an evolving economy is driving up demand for energy. But the country still relies on imports for more than 97 per cent of the energy it consumes.

The new plant is located 15 km east of the Jordanian capital Amman and will bring new efficiency to the provision of energy. It will provide extra capacity to prevent blackouts at times of peak energy use and will secure supplies in response to rising demand.

In addition, the plant's state-of-the-art technology makes it able to respond in seconds to changes in demand. This flexibility is critical to the success of Jordan's ambitious strategy to exploit its world-class solar and wind resources, a strategy the EBRD is supporting. The Bank has financed the some of the first solar projects in the country, beginning with a US$ 25 million loan to a 20 MW solar plant in the Ma'an area, signed on 26 September 2014.

The EBRD provided a loan of US$ 100 million in 2012 towards the construction of the new Al Manakher plant, which was completed on budget and on schedule in July 2014.

Speaking at the inauguration, Phil Bennett said, “We are a long-term investor in Jordan and we are taking a long-term view of its economic requirements. This new plant will help supply Jordan with the energy it needs as well as allowing greater renewable energy penetration. Our support for this project is just one part of our holistic approach to energy in Jordan. We have financed the country's first solar project, we are working in the distribution sector and we have financed a number of projects promoting demand-side energy efficiency.”

To date the EBRD has committed €250 million across 12 projects in the country in various sectors. Through the EBRD’s Small Business Support programme the Bank has also initiated 65 technical assistance capacity-building support programmes that directly benefit Jordanian small and medium-sized enterprises

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