Solar panel arrays, like these in Abu Dhabi, will soon power Jericho’s new agra-industrial park
Further to our last posting dealing with Japan’s plan to assist in the construction of a solar energy plant in the Palestinian city of Jericho, it was reported in the Jordan Times that Japan’s International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is intensively working on a project to enable Palestinian industries to export their products worldwide through Jordan within the coming few years.
The plan involves the establishment of a $100 million agro-industrial park in Jericho that will be powered by solar energy. The park, which will be used to produce products for export, will enable the Palestinians to export their products via Jordan, thus circumventing Israeli checkpoints which now are a hindrance to the free movement of goods in and out of Palestine.
In an interview with the Jordan Times, Mr. Hideki Matsunaga, Middle East Director for the JICA said that:
“Currently, Palestinian businesses and industries in the West Bank suffer from Israeli checkpoints, restrictions, shortage of power and water, but through the project we seek to help them grow.”
The solar energy project, besides providing electric power for the agro-industrial park, will be able to provide electricity for at least 20,000 residents of a city that traces its origins back more than 3,000 years.
Due to shortages of energy and water in the Palestinian Authority, the building of a solar plant in Jericho will be very advantageous and will enable the generation of electricity for the exclusive use of the Palestinians who up to now have had to rely on electricity supplied by Israel’s national grid.
Mr. Matsunaga went on to say that “Jordan is very supportive of the project. We are currently in the process of talks with Jordan to open a road connecting Southern Shuneh in Jordan with the park in Jericho.”
For their part, Palestinians are interested in being involved in sustainable energy projects. Recently, the Palestine Polytechnic University in Hebron hosted a four day workshop in sustainable energy sources that was jointly sponsored by the USA.
The idea of the conference was to encourage the exploration of various sustainable energy sources, including solar, wind, and thermal energy. In the area of solar energy, students at the Polytechnic University built an electric vehicle that is powered exclusively by photovoltaic solar panels.
According to the Jordan Times, the Jericho solar energy plant is planned to be installed by September, 2011. At present, bids are still being tendered for the actual construction of the plant. It seems unfortunate that the purpose of the logistical aspects of this venture is to circumvent having to go through Israel; from which “Palestinian businesses and industries in the West Bank suffer from Israeli checkpoints, restrictions, shortage of power and water”, according to Mr. Matsunaga.
Israel currently has a number of solar energy projects either planned for or under construction in its southern Negev and Arava regions. This includes an agreement with Israel’s Arava Power and the German energy giant Siemens to build 15 solar energy plants in settlements in this region.
A better solution for both Israel and the Palestinians, as well as with neighboring Jordan, is a bit more cooperation; instead of “checkpoints and other restrictions which have always affected the Palestinian economy.”
Read more about solar energy projects in Israel and the Palestinian Authority: