The Future of Renewable Energy in the Middle East

With recent developments in energy law and a plethora of opportunities for international investment, Jordan has the potential to become a global leader in the field of renewable energy.

The EDAMA Association for Energy, Water and Environment, in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), released the first-ever Jordan Clean Technology Sector Report in January 2017. The report finds renewable energy and energy efficiency to be the two clean technology sectors that have matured the most in Jordan, with hydropower and biogas showing potential for future development.

Overall, renewable energy projects are on the rise. Last month, his Majesty King Abdullah II oversaw the launch of 12 new photovoltaic power plants expected to generate 200 MW of electricity.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (MEMR) is currently seeking expressions of interest for the construction of what is anticipated to be one of the largest utility-scale electrical storage projects in the Middle East. Located in the Ma’an governorate, “the storage facility will be primarily used for ramp-rate control of PV and wind power plants, as well as for energy shifts of otherwise curtailed renewable energy.” Phase 1 of the project is scheduled for completion by August 2019, while Phase 2 is expected to be completed by 2020.

Other more established projects are also beginning to see returns on their investment. Jordan’s first-ever wind farm project – located in Tafila – recently celebrated its first year of commercial operations.

“The wind farm project in Tafila has laid the foundation for the government to achieve its goal of diversifying energy sources. Since the launch of this project, we’ve advised numerous developers, lenders, and EPC contractors in connection with a number of solar and wind projects,” says Ala’ Khalifeh, Managing Partner at Khalifeh & Partners.

Such developments are evidenced by the launch of several solar and wind projects throughout the Kingdom in recent months, namely in Ma’an, Fujeij, El Quweira, Mafraq, and Aqaba.

 

Regulatory changes

Funding for current renewable energy projects in Jordan has come from both domestic and international investors, including the International Finance Corporation, ACWA Power, and the European Investment Bank. Recent regulatory changes are expected to encourage additional foreign investment and spur further growth in the Jordanian renewable energy sector.

The new laws, under the Regulation for Organizing Non-Jordanian Investments No. 77, loosen the requirements for foreign investors and are expected to have a positive impact on investment in the clean and alternative energy sectors.

Other government policies continue to encourage investment. Jordan has committed to allocating a share of 10 percent of its total energy mix to renewable energy by 2020. The government plans to accomplish this through long-term Power Purchase Agreements, tax and customs exemptions for renewable energy systems and equipment, and other incentives that promote clean energy projects outlined in the Renewable Energy and Efficiency Law (REEEL).

 

Impact on the private sector

According to EDAMA, 82 percent of surveyed companies are fully owned by Jordanians and they employ nearly 13,000 employees, 72 percent of whom are engineers or technicians.

The projects, many which are located outside of major cities, provide an opportunity to increase employment and raise living conditions in more rural areas of the country.

The uptick in renewable energy investments in Jordan has also inspired the expansion of university programs that train future employees in subjects critical to such fields, including energy and water engineering and environmental management.

 

Our take

Jordan’s solar and wind energy potential has the power to bring significant investments to the country, provide jobs across a variety of sectors to an expanding workforce, and demonstrate a model for other countries on the cusp of shifting toward a more sustainable future.

Mr. Khalifeh offered, “Jordan has been among the first in the [MENA] region to set the model for diversification and sustainability when it comes to energy sources, and the continued interest from many parties with regards to investment in these programs is evidence that this commitment is paying off.”

Khalifeh & Partners is renowned for its lawyers’ expertise on the renewable energy sector in the Middle East. Our firm has been at the forefront of legal developments in solar, wind, and conventional power in Jordan for more than a decade

The Birth of Ritz-Carlton in Amman

On April 25th 2017, Al Eqbal Real Estate Development and Marriott International announced the expansion of the Ritz-Carlton brand to Amman with the signing of an agreement to establish the Ritz-Carlton hotel and residences at Fifth Circle in Amman.

Luxury development

Expected to be completed in 2020, the Ritz-Carlton Amman will bring new options to guests and residents in the form of luxury suites, restaurants, branded apartments, and a grand ballroom.

The groundbreaking ceremony took place on Thursday, May 18; Prime Minister Hani Mulki laid the foundation stone inaugurating the project.

The project represents a major element of Marriott International’s plans for expansion in the Middle East market. The company currently represents the broadest portfolio of brands in the Middle East and North Africa, and holds a lucrative position in the eyes of consumers in this region. In Jordan alone, Marriott already operates five hotels, and Marriott’s President and Managing Director for Middle East and North Africa, Alex Kyriakidis, estimates that the company is on track to double its portfolio in the region in the next four years. Already in the works are plans to open properties in Tunis, Tunisia; Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates; Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt; and in the Moroccan cities of Tamuda Bay, Marrakech and Rabat.

Potential for continued economic growth

The Ritz Carlton Amman is anticipated to have a positive impact on the Jordanian economy. Notably, the project is an entirely Jordanian investment. Experts estimate that nearly 2,000 jobs will be created in the course of construction and operations, many of which will go to Jordanian youth.

Emad Al Kilani, CEO of Al Eqbal Real Estate Development, noted that the hotel and residences plan to work with both international and Jordanian architects to capture the “authenticity of Jordanian culture with a modern twist.”

K&P corporate partner Khaldoun Nazer led the team advising Al Eqbal Real Estate Development on all hotel management and residential agreements. He commends both parties for their tireless dedication to bringing the project to life saying, “The fact that Jordan is considered to be an integral part of the growth of the Ritz-Carlton brand in the Middle East, and that they established a close partnership with a prominent Jordanian firm, has exciting implications for future development and growth within the country.”

Khalifeh & Partners has an established track record for its lawyers’ work on large-scale real estate deals and other construction projects.