Electricity from solar panels offers brighter future for many in the Gaza Strip

In 2006, the Gaza Strip was plunged into darkness following an Israeli military assault on Gaza's only power plant. Since then, the 2-million-resident coastal enclave has suffered prolonged power outages. To cope with the cuts, private solar panel services have been installed in residential homes, hospitals, industrial and agricultural facilities, sewage water treatment and desalination plants.

Shadia Darweesh, a mother of eight children, four of whom suffer from disabilities, has had a solar panel system since last year. The new source of power was provided by Sun Box, a private company, in return for 1,500 US dollars, donated by Palestine Children's Relief Fund, an NGO based in Gaza.

Shadia is now able to look after her disabled children, who need ventilators and food processors, at home, instead of having to make the trip to the Al Aqsa hospital or the local clinic.

Shadia needed the help of an NGO because the solar electricity comes at a price.

The cost of a single kilowatt of solar panel-produced electricity ranges from six hundred US dollars to one thousand five hundred US dollars, very large sums in the current economic situation of Gaza.

Benefits to all sectors of the community

And it is not just individual families which are benefitting. According to Kamal Almash-harawi, an engineer who works for Sun-Box, one of the major installers of solar panels in Gaza, "the number of our beneficiaries, across the Gaza Strip has exceeded more than 100,000 so far.

"They include refugee camps, neighborhoods, towns, streets and almost all other sectors of the community. The projects that we have so far executed included street lights, infrastructure projects, private and public use, as well as direct and indirect use by the community."

Kamal told RFI that, since 2018, his private firm has imported items including batteries, inverters and protection boards from European countries and mainly from China.

A perfect place for solar power projects

Gaza's Electricity Company, which is responsible for distributing power to the population of Gaza, says that over the past 15 years, around 200 megawatts of electricity have been provided by both Israeli lines and Gaza's power plant.

Gaza still needs another 300 megawatts to meet demand. Recently, the company has also resorted to solar panels, in an attempt to improve its services.

With plenty of available sunshine...more than 350 clear days every year...Gaza is ideally suited to the development of this important resource.

Which will improve the lives of many Gaza residents, to say nothing of the benefits to the environment.