Set atop a mosque in the south of Jordan's capital, dozens of shimmering solar panels reflect a growing trend in the resource-poor desert kingdom as it tries combat its heavy reliance on imported energy.
Standing in front of the Hamdan al-Qara mosque, Sheikh Adnan Yahya says that before installing the panels he used to pay up to 13,000 dinars ($18,350, 15,500 euros) a year for electricity.
"The bill has now dropped to almost zero," says the imam.
With panels popping up on the rooftops of homes, schools, hotels and factories across Jordan, the growing popularity of solar power is easy to spot.
The dishes and other desert-based solar fields are part of the kingdom's drive to steer the country away from foreign energy and towards renewable options available domestically.
Jordan imports nearly 98 percent of its energy needs, and has long relied on gas, heavy fuel oil and diesel to run its power plants.
Each year, it pays more than $4.5 billion on oil imports alone, according to official data.
Public debt exceeds more than $40 billion in Jordan, rocked this summer by rare anti-austerity protests.
But a government plan to make clean energy 20 percent of the country's overall power consumption by 2020 has seen alternative energy projects skyrocket in recent years.
At the beginning of this year, a set of 140 panels were affixed to the top of Sheikh Yahya's mosque at a cost of $45,000—generating nearly 44 kilowatts of energy.
The installation powers the 1,500-person capacity place of prayer, its 50 air conditioners, 35 fans, 120 lamps, 32 cameras and sound system.
"In the past, worshippers would complain about the heat in the summer and ask us to turn up the air conditioners. But now they tell us: 'Turn it down, we're freezing!'" the white-bearded sheikh says with a broad smile.
The Hamdan al-Qara is one of 380 mosques and churches across Jordan that have been supplied with solar-power systems in the past five years, according to the energy ministry.
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19 December 2018
20 December 2018