The Kingdom of Jordan has announced plans to install solar panels on all of its mosques by the end of the year.
The plan is being carried out in collaboration with the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and is part of a five-year mission to increase the country’s renewable energy capacity by about 1,650 megawatts.
ZME Science points out that this could be a major windfall for the country, which is “almost devoid of natural resources” and currently imports a whopping 96 percent of its energy.
Mosques can consume significant amounts of electricity, as muslims use them throughout the day. The buildings are constantly lighted and air-conditioned as worshipers observe their five daily prayers, leading to some mosques to pay as much as $1,400 per month in utility bills. About 150 new mosques are built in Jordan every year.
A spokesperson for Jordan’s energy ministry, Ahmad Abu Saa, told The Jordan Times that the nationwide solar installation plan “will help to reduce significantly [mosque’s] electricity bills as about 300 days in the year are sunny.”
The project will be kickstarted with photovoltaic panel installations on 120 mosques.
According to PV Magazine, Jordan’s ambitious renewable goal has made it a leader in the Arab world for utility-scale solar PV installations. Several large solar farms are scheduled to go live in 2015 and a 2012 renewable energy subsidy has given the residential and commercial sectors extreme incentive to go solar as well.
As Samer Zawaydeh, a Jordan-based freelance engineering consultant and the assistant director at the US-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 percent of their electricity needs by installing net-metering solar PV systems.”
In December 2012, said Zawaydeh, the country’s decentralized residential and commercial solar PV market was composed of about 40 companies. Now, there are hundreds. “More than five thousand people are working in the supply chain from design, procurement, electrical, mechanical and civil Installation, quality control, safety, commissioning and operation and maintenance,” he added.