Solar Energy - Re-providing Electricity to the Citizens of the Gaza Strip

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A senior Gaza energy official says, "Gaza residents only have access to electricity for two hours every 24 hours." Even ten years ago, the Gaza Strip enjoyed a 24-hour daily electricity supply. But by 2016, this had been reduced to 12 hours a day due to an acute electricity shortage - and the situation has rapidly deteriorated since then.

The Gaza Strip usually imports 120 megawatts of electricity from Israel and 20 megawatts from Egypt, while 60 megawatts are generated locally from the Gaza Power Plant. These supplies combined are only sufficient to cover half of the Gaza Strip's electricity needs, which resulted in the rationalization of the current so that electricity is supplied for eight hours and then stops for the next eight hours and so on.

To make matters worse, the recent political disputes led to the closure of the Gaza power plant due to the high cost of fuel needed to operate the plant, while electricity imports from Israel decreased by 30%. With the summer temperatures soaring, these reduced supplies cover only a fraction of the sector's total needs, resulting in only two hours of electricity per day. For a society trapped between land and sea, this is a severe blow to its already miserable living conditions.

In addition, the electricity infrastructure is extremely weak due to the ongoing armed conflict in Gaza. During the 2014 conflict, the Gaza power plant and several power lines from Egypt and Israel were destroyed, leaving hundreds of thousands of Gaza residents and vital facilities, such as hospitals, without electricity.

With few options and no horizon, the citizens of the Gaza Strip searched for alternatives, seeking to once again take the decision to obtain electricity in their own hands. There have been strong and widespread efforts to increase the water of solar power generation facilities. The international community has joined in these endeavours. Between 2012 and 2014, donors provided rooftop solar systems with a total capacity of 300 kW. But after 2014, this capacity increased more than tenfold, to 3,500 kilowatts.

Rooftop solar systems are becoming increasingly popular to provide electricity for critical infrastructure. Many departments of intensive medical care, surgery and obstetrics in hospitals have adopted hybrid solar systems, in which the operating devices move from the main grid to the solar energy network, the backup generator and the storage battery to ensure continuous electricity supply throughout the day, seven days a week, to cover medical activities that are essential to preserving the lives of citizens. . In addition, the water and sewage networks sectors are seriously looking for solutions to integrate solar energy to cover their electricity needs.

During the past four years, the United Nations has urgently provided quantities of fuel to run generators in more than 150 vital installations in Gaza, including hospitals, and public water and sanitation facilities. According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the cost of emergency fuel typically amounts to about $6 million per year. But with the Gaza power plant closed since last April, the generators had to run for longer hours, which required additional supplies of emergency fuel. The cost of emergency fuel then jumped to $10 million a year. With no signs of an end in sight, donors began to search in earnest for sustainable alternatives.

As of May 2017, the installation of 310 kilowatts of solar energy on the rooftops of health facilities in Gaza had been completed. According to the Ministry of Health in Gaza and the World Health Organization, additional solar energy generation systems can be installed in

34 vital units inside 10 hospitals in Gaza with a total capacity of one megawatt (1,000 kilowatts) and an estimated cost of about four million dollars. To compare this, the cost of supplying fuel for the same number of facilities at current prices is estimated at $ 1 million each year.

Solar energy systems are becoming increasingly widespread in both domestic and commercial use, although few can afford to pay for such systems up front as a single payment. The new innovative program launched by the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company (GEDCO) provides solar energy systems for domestic and commercial consumers and allows the cost to be paid in monthly installments at intervals ranging from 18 to 24 months, which helps to make these systems affordable for the average consumer. All premiums paid by consumers in the program go to revolving funds that are used to create more systems on more surfaces. The program, which cost $ 1 million and is fully funded by funds from the Gaza Electricity Distribution Corporation, sold its stock of solar energy systems in record time.

For a company that suffers financially, such as the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company, this is an opportunity to improve its services and relations with customers by providing more electricity supplies, away from the changes in the political situation. In addition, the program helps strengthen the company's performance by encouraging the dissemination of a culture of commitment to paying monthly installments.

Following the same business model, and with additional modifications and simplifications, the World Bank is participating with the Gaza Electricity Company and the Palestinian Energy Authority in launching a pilot program at a cost of $ 2.5 million, financed by the World Bank and the multi-donor trust fund for development partners, to install solar energy generation systems on rooftops with a single megawatt capacity that benefits About a thousand consumers. The program is designed to be expanded rapidly, while plans call for the mobilization of the private sector in later stages of the project.

A recent World Bank study entitled “Securing Energy for Development in the West Bank and Gaza” confirms the possibility of generating more than 150 megawatts of solar energy in the Gaza Strip. To visualize this, the maximum power generation capacity of the Gaza Power Plant is 140 MW; However, the plant rarely operates with a capacity of more than 60 MW due to the high cost of diesel fuel needed to operate.

Although rooftop solar energy systems will not be able to quench the energy thirst of the Gaza Strip, with peak demand expected to rise to 900 megawatts by 2030, according to a study conducted by the World Bank entitled Energy Securing for Development, solar energy will play a major role in increasing supplies. daily electricity. At the same time, it will help ensure the continuity of life-saving health operations, interconnect telecommunications networks, improve water supply, adequate wastewater treatment, assist in business development and, most importantly, ensure that electricity continues to reach subscribers even if it is damaged.

A subsection of the network during armed conflict. In general, reliance on solar energy should be increased - not only to improve the quality of life, but also to provide electricity again to the ordinary citizen of Gaza. I got this much information from my father and I consulted with one of the family’s experts in electricity and their experience and the reports they received. Now I want to tell you my experience that I went through in light of the long hours of electricity cuts before the 2021 war that took place last month, which lasted 11 days without electricity or Internet because of the bombing of the place of distribution of electricity and water on that day. I knew the importance of solar and electric energy in continuing my education and studies and reassuring me about my loved ones.

Comments (1)

  • tom Tom @ the BNC
    01 Jun 2021

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention! You've combined research with your own reflections and experiences to produce a very well-informed piece.

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