Palestine to launch 30 MW solar PV projects

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Palestine looks set to install up to 30 MW of solar power projects this year as part of several initiatives being launched by the government, including upcoming solar tenders, according to Abu Dhabi newspaper The National.

The solar projects are part of the state’s increasing focus on renewable energy as an alternative to unreliable and more expensive energy imports from Israel.

Indeed, the initiatives are expected to save Palestine nearly $100 million, Omar Kittaneh, Palestine’s minister of energy and natural resources, said at a MENA Clean Energy Business Council event in Dubai on Sunday.

The MENA Clean Energy Business Council is one of the sponsors of the Solar Middle East conference, which takes place in Dubai March 1-3.

The Palestinian solar tenders will include 10 MW of grid-connected solar projects for each of its 11 governorates and will total 110 MW over the next four years, according to The National.

A further 35 MW of solar capacity is to be added to the grid under a net metering system. The 35 MW will be split between commercial, public and residential sectors, with businesses allotted 25 MW and the public and residential sectors dividing the remaining 10 MW. The projects will be eligible for soft loans from the $50 million Palestinian Solar Fund.

As part of the state’s net-metering program, Palestine will provide credit for any excess electricity generated with no cap, Kittaneh said.

Palestine currently generates about 20% of its own power needs, with the remaining 800 MW imported from Israel. In an effort to generate more of its own energy, the state is pushing solar energy development. To that end, the government is also preparing two 50 MW solar PV projects.

Kittaneh said the entire program would save Palestine more than $90 million. “We see [renewables] as not just a huge source of energy, but also as saving lives,” he added.

Female professionals in the spotlight at Solar Middle East conference

The Solar Middle East event, meanwhile, is hosting more than 140 exhibitors and over 4,000 viistors from more than 85 countries.

On Thursday the conference held the inaugural installment of the Women in Clean Energy MENA (WICE) initiative, organized by the Clean Energy Business Council. Set up by women for women, the WICE aims to provide female professionals and students in MENA’s renewable and clean energy fields with a voice and encourages women into jobs in the clean energy sector.

Keynote speakers at Thursday’s event, The Role of Women in the Solar Industry, included Aisha Al Abdooli, director of environmental awareness and education at the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water; and Noura Y. Mansouri, manager for strategy and marketing at the World Energy Council.

Solar intensifying in Middle East

This year’s Solar Middle East is taking place amidst increasingly ambitious solar targets in the region. According to the Middle East Solar Industry Association (MESIA), the Middle East is set to tender as much as 4 GW of solar energy projects in 2016.

In its recent Middle East Solar Outlook report, MESIA said this year would be characterized by increasingly lower levelized costs of solar electricity as the region’s solar energy market is spurred on, rather than slowed down, by low oil and gas prices.