Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney T.D., announces funding of €8.8m
Press release03 December 2019
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney T.D., announces funding of €8.8m for construction of solar plant in Gaza
The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney T.D. today announced a major investment by Ireland in solar energy to treat the contaminated water supply in Gaza. Ireland will fund the construction of a 7.5MW solar power plant providing clean, reliable energy to the NGEST wastewater treatment plant in Northern Gaza. The French Development Agency, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), will partner with Ireland to implement this ambitious project.
Speaking from the NGEST plant in Northern Gaza, where he met the head of the Palestinian Water Authority, Minister Mazen Ghunaim, the Tánaiste said:
“Water pollution is the leading cause of child mortality in Gaza[i][i]. Undrinkable water is keeping families poor, as they spend up to one third of their income buying water. Gaza has a critical energy shortage, which means that it is particularly difficult to power water treatment facilities.
I am pleased, therefore, today to announce a major investment by Ireland, working with France, to address these issues through providing a solar energy solution to the energy needs of the NGEST water treatment plant in Gaza. Importantly, many of these solar panels will stand in land previously designated as off-limits by the Israeli authorities. Opening up this land for humanitarian uses, and particularly for solar installations, has huge potential in a place where land is so scarce. Investments like this are critical to counter the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Ultimately, however, we know that only a political solution can lead to real development in Gaza. In particular, we need to see an end to the blockade of Gaza, an end to the cycle of conflict, and an end to the political division between Gaza and the West Bank.”
3 December 2019
Notes to Editors
- 97% of Gaza’s natural water supply is unfit for human consumption by WHO standards. Major investment in infrastructure is needed in order to rehabilitate the aquifer and reverse this crisis. The North Gaza Emergency Sewage Treatment (NGEST) project aims not only to rehabilitate the aquifer with treated water, but also to use treated water to irrigate some 1,500 hectares of agricultural land.
- Ongoing electricity shortages in Gaza mean that residents only have access to electricity for approximately 12 hours per day. Major installations such as NGEST currently depend on expensive diesel fuel to operate generators. Once completed, this project will provide for the full energy needs of NGEST and any excess power will be distributed to other water and wastewater facilities throughout northern and central Gaza.
- 3.5 hectares of the 10.5 hectares of land to be used for this solar plant lie within a military buffer zone (Access Restricted Area) imposed by Israel which extends for several hundred metres inside Gaza along the length of the security fence dividing Israel from Gaza[ii][ii]. This land is not currently available for use to the population of Gaza. While Gaza is an ideal location for the generation of solar power, it is also among the most densely populated places on earth, making the allocation of land to large-scale solar installations impractical. Significantly, this project represents the first time that land in the Access Restricted Area has been made available for infrastructure and follows extensive engagement by Ireland’s diplomatic network with the Israeli authorities and the Palestinian Authority.
- This investment is in keeping with the commitment in A Better World: Ireland's Policy for International Development to scale up our funding on climate action and explore innovative approaches to climate finance.
- The NGEST wastewater treatment plant was developed by the Palestinian Water Authority, with funding totalling $75m provided by the World Bank, the French Development Agency (AFD), the Government of Belgium, the European Commission and the Swedish International Development Agency. France remains heavily involved in further development work at NGEST.
- Ireland will provide the full funding for the solar scheme (€8.8 million) and will partner with the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) to manage all aspects of the delivery of the project, including onward contracting with the Palestinian Water Authority for design and construction. Tenders for the solar component are expected to be launched in January 2020.