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US firm to build solar plants in Gaza

Image of solar plant [USAF/Wikipedia]
Solar panels in a power generation plant [USAF/Wikipedia]

The Gaza Strip will have three new solar energy plants operating by April, the US-based energy firm behind the project said yesterday, providing the territory with some relief from daily blackouts but far from meeting its severe power shortages.

Gaza’s daily power needs are estimated at nearly 600 megawatts. Israel, Egypt and the enclave’s only electrical generating plant currently supply 165 megawatts, with the electricity supply from Israel being cut after the Palestinian Authority refused to pay for Gaza’s electricity needs. The Strip has also suffered as a result of Israel’s siege which has limited the entry of diesel for its only electricity plant.

Solar power plants will be built in three areas in the Gaza Strip and in total produce 40 megawatts of electrical as early as April, said Volker Gutjahr, technical director of the Samaha Group.

The project, called “Turn on the lights in Gaza”, was announced at a ceremony yesterday in the territory attended by company representatives and Palestinian officials.

Read: UN gives $2.5m in aid to Gaza

“The capital will be around €50 million [$59 million], plus or minus, because this is an unknown territory, so we never know what surprises may come up,” Gutjahr told Reuters.

Gutjahr said the first shipment of equipment for the solar plants should arrive in March and will reach the Gaza Strip via the Israeli Mediterranean port of Ashdod.

Wail Elawoor, CEO of Arab Orient Technology Services company, the local partner in the venture, said approval for the project came from the Energy Authority of the Palestinian Authority.

The project will create jobs for local engineers and workers under supervision of US and German technical experts, Elawoor said.

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