Gaza solar project receives $12 million in international backing

Palestine-based investment house, the PRICO Group, part of Palestine Development and Investment, Ltd (PADICO Holding), will construct, operate, and maintain the 7 MW solar PV rooftop system which, when complete, will supply the generated energy to 32 factories in Gaza’s only industrial park, the Gaza Industrial Estate.

Up to 800 direct and indirect jobs are expected to be created on the back of the project, said the World Bank, “thanks to the more reliable and cheaper electricity that will be available for factories inside the park.”

The generated energy, it added, is expected to be sold at a price 10% cheaper and up to 50% below the cost of diesel-based generation.

“The project comes at a critical time in Gaza as the only power plant suffers from lack of fuel, aging feeding lines, and damage caused by three wars in the last decade,” said Bashar Al Masri, PADICO board member.

Indeed, the World Bank said energy outages of between 12 and 16 hours occur daily in Gaza, while annual supply meets just 50% of the territory’s average, and a third of its peak, demand. Meanwhile, 70% of its electricity and 100% of its energy is currently imported.

“The rooftop solar project is critical to ease the energy shortage in the Gaza Industrial Estate and, in turn, help create jobs,” said Marina Wes, World Bank Country Director in the West Bank and Gaza. “Factories inside the industrial estate will be able to expand operations and hire additional workers, thanks to more reliable and affordable electricity.”

World Bank Group members, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Mulitlateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), together with donors, which include the Canadian Government, have earmarked $12 million for the development of the project.

Of this, 75% will come from the World Bank Group, including $4 million from the IFC-Canada Climate Change Program. MIGA, meanwhile, is providing $7 million in investment guarantees, issued through the West Bank and Gaza Investment Guarantee Trust Fund, supported by the government of Japan and the Palestinian Authority, and the Conflict-Affected and Fragile Economies Facility, supported by the UK’s Department for International Development, the Canadian International Development Agency, and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

According to a statement issued by the World Bank, it is the first private investment in energy in the self governing territory in more than a decade.

No further project details were provided.

Rooftop program

 Last August, the World Bank announced that it was partnering with the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company and the Palestinian Authority to launch a $2.5 million pilot program for the development of grid-connected rooftop PV solutions in Gaza.

According to the United Nations Climate Action Programme, 1,000 PV systems with a power of 1 kW each will be installed in critical areas under the program.

A month prior to this, meanwhile, Turkish energy company Zorlu Energy, a unit of Turkey-based industrial conglomerate Zorlu, signed a memorandum of understanding with Palestinian utility, Jerusalem District Electricity Company (JDECO), which provides 30% of households in West Bank and East Jerusalem with electricity, for the construction of an unspecified number of solar plants.