Making the most of solar energy in one of the world’s sunniest cities

How the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is harvesting Jordan’s largest renewable energy source to power its offices

Dina El-Kassaby
Feb 8, 2018 · 3 min read

Did you know that Jordan is one of the sunniest places on earth? With over 300 sunny days a year, harnessing that solar energy is an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.

Aerial view of sun-soaking solar panels with the dual purpose of serving as cover for the staff car park at WFP’s office in Amman. Photo: WFP/Dina El-Kassaby

Jordan is one of the driest, and most resource-poor countries in the world. This means the country primarily generates its electricity by burning expensive fossil fuels. Needless to say, this leaves a massive carbon footprint that could be curbed by relying on renewable energy sources.

Climate change affects rainfall, agriculture and food production, posing a direct threat to global food security and nutrition. Studies show that climate change could increase the risk of hunger and malnutrition by up to 20% by 2050. So, naturally, the world’s largest humanitarian organization fighting hunger worldwide is taking steps to reduce its carbon footprint wherever possible.

Meticulous installation of 760 solar panels took a few months, but it was well worth the effort. Photo: WFP/Dina El-Kassaby

The first WFP office to make the full switch to solar energy is in Jordan. Totaling almost 100,000 square meters of sun-soaking surface area, the solar panels we installed will generate around 200 kW of power per hour. This same amount of energy if generated by burning fossil fuels, would emit about 23 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

WFP Administration Officer Khaled Issa, explains the cost and benefits of solar energy. Photo: WFP/Dina El-Kassaby

“Every month when I sign electricity bill checks for the office I feel like I am throwing away money that should be saved,” said environmentally-conscious WFP Administration Officer Khaled Issa, the man behind this initiative. “Getting this programme up and running is an amazing feeling because I don’t have to sign those checks anymore — that money can go toward helping people.”

Previously, WFP’s electricity bill was tallying up to an average of US$10,000 per month — but now with solar energy, powering the office behind the life-saving humanitarian workforce will be completely free. That’s an extra US$120,000 that can go toward feeding families in Jordan.

“We couldn’t have made this achievement without the tremendous support from our Country Director. He encouraged us to keep going even when we faced obstacles,” Issa added.

WFP has been operating in Jordan since 1964 and has since initiated a wide range of development projects and emergency food aid operations in close collaboration with the government, corporate partners, NGOs and local communities.

Click here to learn more about WFP’s work in Jordan.

World Food Programme Insight

Insight by The World Food Programme

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