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West Bank to get first solar power plant

27 March 2012, 9:27 GMT | By Dominic Dudley Japanese-funded solar power scheme to provide energy to Jericho industrial park The installation of solar panels at Jericho Agro-Industrial Park (JAIP) is due to start before the end of March, according to sources involved in the project. The solar energy plant is the first of its kind in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and, once in place, will allow for the development of the industrial park itself. The solar power plant has been financed by 600m ($7.2m) in grant aid from Japan, provided through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). According to the sources the installation of the panels has been delayed until now by Israeli reluctance to allow the panels to be imported from Japan. Once installed, the plant will provide 422,000 kWh per year, and reduce potential carbon dioxide emissions by more than 290 tonnes a year. The photovoltaic (PV) panels will cover an area of 13,000 square metres. The system is designed to supply electricity to tenants in the first phase of the industrial park. However, until tenants begin their operations it will direct the power to the Jerusalem District Electricity Company to supplement the current electricity supply to Jericho. JAIP is one of three industrial parks being developed by the Palestinian Industrial Estates & Free Zone Authority (PIEFZA), with others at Jenin and Bethlehem. According to Reem Najjar, acting general director of PIEFZA, a joint venture of the Palestinian Investment Fund (PIF) and Palestine Real Estate Investment Company (Prico) is due to be confirmed as the developer of JAIP in the coming days. Prico is a subsidiary of the local Padico Holding company. Alaa Melhim, JAIP project director, says that 25 companies have already committed to taking space at JAIP, including firms involved in the production of dates, herbs and caviar. Most are likely to target export markets via the King Hussein Bridge crossing to Jordan.

We are trying our best to have industries operating by October this year, but by the end of this year at the latest, adds Najjar. The consultants on the solar power plant are Oriental Consultants Company. The contractor is Toyota Tsusho Corporation and the construction and procurement work is being carried out by Tsuchiya Corporation. All three companies are Japanese.