This is the third blog in a series of three, which explore issues of energy in Jordan, Israel and Palestine. This entry was written by Chelsea McDaniel, FoEME intern at the Bethlehem Office.
Part way through writing this blog, the power suddenly went out in our office—for the second time this week. Power outages haven’t been our only problems with utilities this summer: we also spent five days without water. A dry week was rough, but after several minutes without the ability to search google or check my email I realized that even several hours without energy would make my work near impossible to do.
As mentioned in the previous posts, Israel and Jordan rely on imported energy resources, primarily fossil fuels, to support their energy consumption demands. But for Palestine the reality of energy dependence is much more severe. Nearly all of the energy demands for the territories are met by importing electricity and fuel from Israel.
This dependence poses several problems for Palestine. First, the energy supply is highly erratic as it is subject to fluctuations in price and availability over which the Palestinian Authority has no control. The cost of energy is also a major concern. According to a report released by the Palestinian Energy and Environment Research Center, Palestinians pay nearly double what their Israeli neighbors pay for energy (.13 €/kW). They also spend a significantly larger portion of their income on their energy needs.
Given the near complete dependence on imported energy, alternative and renewable energy sources are critical to create a more secure energy source that can also meet the growing demand in Palestine. Four years ago, the Palestinian Energy and Environment Research Centre found that renewable energy comprised nearly 20% of the country’s total energy production. Today this number may be a little bit higher thanks to the efforts of a small number of people working to develop renewable energies in Palestine. Still, many renewable resources remain untapped.
A look in to a few alternative energy projects throughout the West Bank offers a glimpse of the future direction of energy in Palestine.
Several years ago a small joint Israeli-Palestinian organization called COMET– Community, Energy, and Technology in the Middle East- began working with local communities in the South Mt Hebron region to install wind turbines and solar panels. These communities previously had no access to electricity due to their location in Israeli administered Area C, where getting a building permit is near impossible.
Just a short distance from our Bethlehem office is Palestine’s first solar thermal plant, located at the Talitha Kumi school. Donated by German company Ferrostaal, this project is saving the school nearly 20,000 EUR annually and has reduced their CO2 emissions by nearly 57,000 kilograms each year.
These projects, along with several other new private and state initiatives, are small in number, but are paving the way to Palestine’s new energy future. As the demand for reliable and secure energy continues to grow, it is likely that the use of renewable energy resources will expand as well.
To read Exploring Energy in Jordan, Israel and Palestine: Part 1, click here.
To read Exploring Energy in Jordan, Israel and Palestine: Part 2, click here.