Copenhagen’s negotiations went up in smoke, and too many governments are seduced by the comforts of oil. Since we can’t trust the good ol’ boys to do what’s right, we look instead to a new generation of industrious citizens with the pluck to go it alone. Khaled Al Sabawi is one them. The son of a Palestinian refugee, the young engineer has taken the Palestinian territories and now Jordan by storm with a simple but ingenious geothermal cooling and heating technology.
Unlike other inventors featured in Global Post’s Energy Entrepreneurs series, Al Sabawi had a little help from the European Union to develop his first project. But he has since formed his own business, MENA Geothermal, and runs his company despite tricky political obstacles.
Pushing past barriers
“Every single time I re-enter, I am subjugated to the same interrogation,” Al Sabawi told Jon Jensen, the Global Post journalist who filmed him. A Canadian citizen, Al Sabawi is sometimes denied entry into Palestine, which is under Israeli military control, and has to leave the country for a month at a time.
Although sometimes drained, he is not deterred. In summer, the temperature below the earth’s surface is lower than atmospheric temperatures, and in winter it is higher. MENA Geothermal capitalizes on this by burying pipes below ground. Water pumped through these pipes then capture the temperature to feed the building’s heating and cooling system.
Heating and cooling Geothermally is clean and cheap
Installing his system, as opposed to using the diesel boilers that many Palestinians use, is equivalent to planting an acre of trees and taking 2 cars off the road, according to Al Sabawi. It also saves 70% on energy costs.
He recently won a $1.5 million bid to install a heating and cooling system for the University of Madaba in Jordan, bringing with it money and prestige, yet he is driven by more than just fame.
“Independence means a sustainable economy,” he told Jensen. And for him, a sustainable economy includes an economy that incorporates green technology. If independence for Palestinians is drawing near, it’s not because of politicians, but because of people like Khaled Al Sabawi.
:: Global Post
Learn More About Innovation in the Middle East: