Can green energy help Palestinians unplug from Israel?
Green energy proponents hope to convince Palestinians that renewables can give them greater autonomy from Israel and is more affordable in the long run.
Ramallah, West Bank
By powering this building with cool air piped from deep below the earth’s surface, Mr. Sabawi’s company, MENA Geothermal, is part of a budding green energy movement that could save millions of dollars for the heavily aid-reliant Palestinian Authority (PA), according to Sabawi. In the process, it could reduce emissions and diversify the PA’s energy sources, making it less dependent on Israel and increasing Palestinian autonomy.
“No diesel enters this building,” says Sabawi. “We are saving around 65 percent on our energy bill.”
Despite summer highs in the nineties and winter temperatures that dip below freezing, the temperature is a constant 63 degrees Fahrenheit a few hundred feet below the ground in Ramallah. By tapping the steady sub-surface temperature, the building uses about half the electricity of a conventional cooling and heating system and reduces carbon dioxide emission by 30 percent.
But it’s not just concern for the environment that is sparking the quest for renewable energy here. Power in the Palestinian territories is scarce and expensive, and nearly all of it comes from Israel.
This situation gives Palestinians virtually no energy security – a precarious position in a region with so much political uncertainty, particularly with energy demand growing by as much as 10 percent per year.
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