solar panels in a house in Gaza
Exclusive to Environment and Development Horizons:
Mohammed Salah- thirty years old- from Gaza says ”Money means nothing when your children are crying because its dark from not having electricity or it is hot and you can’t turn on a fan in the heat.”
Mohammed Saleh has installed solar panels on the roof of his home to produce electricity. He has six solar panels on the roof. The panels are enough for the lights and fans.
His home in Gaza is on the border with Israel. He fears that the panels will be detected by Israeli authorities and destroyed. Mohammed has no choice he is constantly subject to the power outages. His children cannot live without power. The solar panels have solved a crisis in his home.
They are an expensive investment not available to all people. Gaza is in need of an entrepreneur willing to invest. The panels are manufactured in China. If the panels were readily available to buy to the public, it would alleviate their electricity problems. It is a hefty investment for the average Gazan but with an enormous return on investment, and within a relatively short period. The payback is within 5-7 years. The panels also have backup batteries to provide power during dark. The panels have a life expectancy of 15-20 years but should. The batteries have a life expectancy of 5 years.
The Gaza power company is capable of only providing 6 hours of electricity to whole Gaza Strip. The power plant does not have the capacity to provide the 380 megawatts fall /winter and the 440 megawatts in spring/summer to Gaza. Gaza is functioning at 212 mega watts. Israel is providing 120; Egypt provides 32 and 60 from Gaza. The power company is undertaking an effort to increase output to 12 hours a day. The six hours of power that it provides requires 400,000 liters of diesel fuel.
The energy crisis was compounded in 2006 when Israel put Gaza under siege. The subsequent bombardments and destruction of Gaza has ruined its capacity to provide electricity among other services for its people. Raed Abu Haj head of the Renewable Energy division in the Palestinian Energy Authority spoke to Afaq./ Horizons. The division is spearheading a new project to replace conventional means of electricity with solar energy. They hope by 2020 to have 20% of electricity provided from solar panels. With the help of the international community, solar panels have been provided to government, international and health institutions. Abu Haj pointed out that while the cost of solar energy has declined around the world it has increased in Gaza. This compounded with the siege that makes it an unreachable solution for Gaza
JICA a Japanese NGO operating in Gaza has provided 2 schools with solar panels, in addition to the ICU unit in the Kamal Adwan Hospital. The UNDP has provided solar panels for 23 UNRWA schools.
Translated by: Kefah Abukhdeir