Palestine licenses its first solar power plant in West Bank

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The 5.7MW solar PV project is the first utility-scale solar project to get a license in Palestine. Flickr: KMo Foto

The Palestine Energy Ministry has granted licensing and permits for its first large-scale solar power plant near the city of Hebron, according to the two companies involved in the development.

To develop the 5.7MW PV project, US-owned, Holland-based solar power firm Gigawatt Global formed a joint venture with Jordan and Palestine-based energy engineering and technology solutions company Rack Tech.

Fadi Bkirat, founder and chief executive of Rack Tech, told PV Tech: “This project really is very important at this time because of the shortage of electricity in the vicinity.

“Also it will be a good way for employment for the Palestinian engineers. It will be very good for the country.”

Bkirat also said his firm has plans for another three projects with combined total of 35MW.

A spokesman for Gigawatt Global said that the project requires investment of US$10 million with the US Government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) supplying 70% of the financing. Gigawatt Global is also arranging the financing and the technology for the plant.

He added that the Palestinian Energy Ministry commissioned a model power purchase agreement (PPA) from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which will be submitted on Thursday. The time taken to complete the project will depend on the quality of this PPA.

The spokesman added: “If it is strong and internationally bankable then we could build this out very quickly. If it needs work it will depend on the pace of bringing it up to speed.”

He also said that the US government is keen for Secretary John Kerry to put the first shovel in the ground and he is only in his role until 20 January next year so the government is hoping for a “tangible development”. Meanwhile, the project also has economic and other implications for the Palestinian Authority, the spokesman added.

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