Amman, Jordan, April 27, 2012 — Jordan moved one step closer to a smart power grid with the launch of a series of studies to prepare for the biggest upgrade of the kingdom's electricity infrastructure in over 30 years.
Under an agreement signed April 26 by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency and the Electricity Regulatory Commission, the U.S. government agreed to extend $1.15 million to Jordan to explore implementing smart grids in the three largest electricity distributors in the country.
Smart grids are electricity distribution systems that use digital technology to gather information about supplier and consumer behavior to distribute power more efficiently and reduce outages and damage.
The studies will examine ways smart grids can increase safety, reliability and load management capacity for the Electricity Distribution Co., the Irbid Electric Power Co. and the Jordanian Electric Power Co.
The studies, 90 percent of which will be funded by the USTDA grant, will also explore the introduction of smart meters to provide up-to-date data on capacity loads for providers and accurate billing information for consumers.
Energy officials highlighted the importance of upgrading the nation's electricity grid in order to incorporate several renewable energy and oil shale-fuelled power stations expected to come online later this decade.
The studies are to be completed by early 2013, according to the agreement, which was signed by U.S. Ambassador in Amman Stewart E. Jones, Hiyasat and USTDA Regional Director Carl Kress.
Renewable energy, nuclear and oil shale projects, which require an overhaul of the kingdom's 40-year-old electricity grid, have been singled out as key to reducing the country's reliance on energy imports, which account for 98 percent of the country's electricity generation needs.