Experts weigh in on solar energy policies amidst consumer frustration

renewable energy in jordan
(File photo: Jordan News)
The National Association for Consumer Protection has been inundated with complaints from citizens who have embraced solar energy for years, expressing frustration over being deprived of their stored or recycled kilowatt-hours over the past three years. This issue is aggravated by the substantially high installation costs compared to current rates, without any form of support from relevant authorities.اضافة اعلان

Mohammad Obeidat, the association's president, has voiced serious concerns regarding a decision made by the Ministry of Energy about two years ago, which added an extra two dinars per kilowatt to monthly system bills. This decision resulted in a staggering 160 percent surge in bills, pushing the minimum monthly charge from approximately JD5 to JD13, with additional fees escalating as consumption increases. This situation is viewed as unjust, considering the considerable financial investment made by consumers in this service.

Furthermore, Obeidat told Jordan News “Despite citizens paying fees or rental substitutes to accumulate a storage balance for winter heating, they face an unfair decision that nullifies or writes off 90 percent of this balance after three years, leaving them with only 10 percent of their total storage.”

Questioning the fate of the canceled balance and its potential unauthorized sale, he demanded the protection of citizens' rights by revoking the oppressive decision and restoring the deprived energy accumulated over the years for heating purposes, especially amid rising electricity prices.

He criticized “The regulations governing the sale of energy from renewable energy systems, calling for their amendment. He highlighted the unfairness and lack of equity in these regulations, emphasizing the legislative responsibility to ensure fairness between parties involved in exchange processes, without favoring the powerful at the expense of vulnerable citizens facing challenging economic circumstances.”

Both old news and new news
Energy expert Amer Al-Shobaki told Jordan News "This issue is both old and new at the same time, as there is a restriction on the uptake of renewable energy instead of striving to increase the adoption of these systems by citizens and providing facilities for installing renewable energy systems. Since the government imposed two dinars per kilowatt-hour from renewable energy systems, this restriction has burdened citizens who own these systems, and they no longer feel the difference between adopting these renewable energy systems and the old system."

Shobaki emphasized that in "Recycling stored energy, the company calculates 10 percent of the electricity from the surplus electricity, which is a clear injustice to the interests of citizens, as the system imposes large amounts on citizens in light of the difficult economic conditions we are experiencing. Therefore, no one has the right to take more than the stored electricity except at the normal price, and only 10 percent is calculated." He said that the solutions lie in obtaining approvals, which are in the hands of the government. He emphasized “We now see that approvals are being intervened by electricity distribution companies, leading to a monopoly on the rights of citizens in favor of these companies. Additionally, there is a significant role for the Energy Regulatory Commission, which can intervene in this file and regulate the relationship between citizens and electricity companies."

On-grid v. off-grid systems
Furthermore, Alaa Jomhour, a project manager specializing in the energy sector and critical power supply, told Jordan News that "Jordanian companies provide mainly two types of solar system solutions an off-grid system that relies on solar/batteries, a second type called an on-grid system, which relies on solar power during the day, and electricity distributor companies when the sun is down. It is facing the downside that it may sometimes be ineffective, especially in winter. While most systems are on-grid, there is no other option to reconnect them to electrical storage systems and to provide power from batteries.”

And as to why people can’t fully benefit from their solar systems, he added “The main goal of each electricity company is to gain profit and sell the power, while people can only maintain an on-grid system to meet their needs, so if a system is annually producing more by day than what has been consumed by night, there will be no recompense on that matter. Initially.”

There will be a solution so long as legislation makers want to adopt it
Jomhour said “For sure there will be a solution for a better future as long as legislation makers want to adopt and grow the green energy market in Jordan. As a promising application, energy storage systems could be integrated with a hybrid system that consists of a diesel generator with the already mentioned systems on/off-grid to protect against any kind of power failure. We provide such systems, but at a higher cost, so it is not a feasible solution for the majority of people.”

Furthermore, there is a continuous decline in the adoption of solar energy systems. With some difficulties with procedures, approvals, and last year an increment on the monthly electricity bill of about JD15, whether the system has been working or not, a small house will have no benefit from installing such a system.

Currently, around 150 licensed companies are working in the field, compared to hundreds previously. Moreover, the returns for private companies in installing small-scale systems for households are not profitable unless they are installed in factories, huge households, or for big companies.”

Additionally, Jordan’s market is still young and promising, and with international solar panels, battery advancements daily, and new legislation, there will still be hope for a brighter future.

Meanwhile, Mohammad Dado President of the Renewable Energy Establishments Society (REES) told Jordan News “Energy and Mineral Regulatory Commission (EMRC) issued an instruction that affects the owners of the renewable energy system.  In this instruction, 90 percent of the accumulated exported electrical energy to the grid is canceled every three years.  This canceled energy is generated by the owners of these systems and they own it. “

“They inject the electricity into the grid and the electricity companies sell it back to other customers and gain earnings instantly.  This energy is not stored in batteries and there is no storage cost at all.  There is no reason why the owners of the system shouldn't get compensation for this exported energy.”

*Please note: Jordan News has contacted the Energy Regulatory Commission for a statement.

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