Thousands of solar panels will be installed on the rooftops of some 500 public schools throughout Palestine to generate another 35 MW.
According to Palestinian officials, the first of four planned solar panel plants has been inaugurated as part of a project which aims to reduce dependence on Israeli power sources.
Palestine’s first-ever solar power station is aiming to produce 7.5 megawatts (MW) of electricity from its Noor Jericho Photovoltaic Solar Park location.
Work on this first phase is expected to be completed in June.
There will be a total of three Palestinian solar parks: Noor Jericho, the largest; Noor Tubas solar park, much smaller with a capacity of 4 MW; and Noor Jenin project with a capacity of 5 MW.
Additionally, thousands of solar panels will be installed on the rooftops of some 500 public schools throughout Palestine to generate another 35 MW.
The Ministry of Education gave permission to use the rooftops of the public schools for solar panels due to a shortage of open land, resulting from Israeli military control of two-thirds of Palestinian land in the West Bank’s Area C.
Israel prevents Palestine from carrying out construction or benefiting from the land in that region.
The Noor Jericho plant will produce power from 20,000 solar panels that will be set up in two stations – one with 4000 panels and the other with 3500 panels – and be distributed by the Jerusalem-based Palestinian electricity company, Jerusalem District Electricity Company (JDECO), which provides power to Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jericho and their area villages and towns.
When all phases of the project is completed, estimated in eight years, it should produce 200 MW of electricity in total or the equivalent to 17% of Palestine’s power needs, according to Palestine Investment Fund (PIF) Chairman of the Board, Mohammad Mustafa.
“The whole idea here is to diversify the sources of energy without doing away with the current sources, mainly diesel fuel, which so far remains a main source of energy in Palestine,” Mustafa told WAFA.
According to the PIF chair, the power generated from the solar parks will reduce Palestinian dependence on Israeli power, which is currently 98% of its power needs of 1000 MW, annually.
Mustafa explained the West Bank consumes about $700 million a year in electricity and added that Palestine hopes to cut importation from Israel, by 50% over the next decade.
Noor Jericho Solar Park alone is expected to reduce the import of electricity by around US$1.25 million annually, with an estimated total of US$31 million during the 25 years expected lifetime of the park.
The PIF company’s subdivision Massader, which was established to lead investments in natural resources and infrastructure, undertook the first phase of the project to the tune of US$10-million.
One of the four plants will be donated by China.