In the Middle East, wind power is a rapidly growing renewable energy source because of its minimal carbon emissions and increasing cost competitiveness. In an initiative to reduce Jordan’s high energy import costs, estimated at 13.5 percent of GDP, the government has set a target of obtaining 1,800 megawatts—10 percent of the country’s energy supply—from renewable sources by 2020.
Although the renewable energy sector, including wind energy, is considered “green,” adverse environmental and social (E&S) impacts of renewables also need to be considered and managed. Jordan sits on the Rift Valley/Red Sea flyway, the second largest flyway for migratory birds in the world. It also has a suite of protected areas of national and international significance. Jordan’s largest nature reserve—the Dana Biosphere Reserve (BR) and the surrounding Dana Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA)—is one of the few large areas in Jordan designated as important for its flora and fauna.
The IFC (International Finance Corporation) commissioned the Tafila Region Wind Power Project (TRWPP) Cumulative Effects Assessment (CEA) to help promote more sustainable wind energy investments in Jordan. Focusing on biodiversity, this innovative initiative is the first of its kind in the Eastern Europe, Middle East, and North Africa region. The overall management and technical direction of the CEA was undertaken by IFC, supported by a team of multidisciplinary international and Jordanian experts and advisors who were contracted to develop the CEA. The work was made possible through a partnership with developers, conservation bodies, finance institutions and government, along with the knowledge of in-country experts facilitated through an Advisory Committee and an Expert Review Panel (ERP).
Five wind farm developers agreed to share and pool their pre-construction environmental survey data, representing a remarkable resource. This collaborative approach, a key component of the CEA process, allows a consistent method for identifying and managing E&S risks when developers are working in close proximity. For energy companies operating in middle-income and developing countries, the CEA approach is especially pertinent in that it is risk-based and relies on survey data but can also be applied where regional data on biodiversity are limited. This is particularly relevant when assessing the effects of external stressors on biodiversity, as data on these effects are almost always either limited or nonexistent in the countries where IFC and other multilateral development banks operate.
The CEA study area, located approximately 200 km south of Amman, principally within the Tafila Governorate, covers the Dana BR/IBA and the Wind Power Project (WPP) sites. The temporal scope of the assessment was defined as three years from the start of operations at each WPP, following which an evaluation would be conducted to determine an appropriate ongoing level of biodiversity monitoring and adaptive management.