Event Reports

CONFERENCE ON RENEWABLE ENERGY INVESTMENT

On Tuesday, 20 March 2012, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) Ramallah invited to a conference on renewable energy investment in the Palestinian territories. The event was organized in cooperation with the Palestinian Energy and Environment Research Center (PEC)/the Palestinian Energy Authority (PEA), and took place at the Mövenpick Hotel in Ramallah. It provided a forum for Palestinian and international experts on renewable energy and private sector making the conference one of the few of its kind.
The future of the renewable energy in the Palestinian territories and how to invest into it generated a huge interest in the conference – about 290 stakeholders attended the event and lively discussions following each panel. Although the conference covered a variety of subjects, all experts concurred on one issue: private sector investment in renewable energy – especially solar energy – has a great potential in the Palestinian territories. Renewable energy presents not only an attainable goal but also an essential milestone for sustainable economic and social development.

The head of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Ramallah, Mr. Felix Dane opened the conference and pointed out to the potential development of the renewable energy sector in the Palestinian territories. This would limit the Palestinian dependency on energy imports. He stressed that if the right policies are formulated, the private sector will invest into renewable energy, thereby providing new jobs and economic growth.

The positive impact of renewable energy investment on job creation was reaffirmed by Mr. Götz Lingenthal, the head of the German Representative Office in Ramallah. Mr. Lingenthal provided a comparison to the Federal Republic of Germany where up to date 370 000 employees are working in the renewable energy sector – surpassing the employment in the German automotive industry.

The next speaker, Dr. Omar Kittaneh, Minister of the Palestinian Energy Authority, demonstrated the Palestinian political commitment to the renewable energy generation as he presented the new Palestinian Solar Initiative (PSI) due to be implemented in summer 2012. The PSI sets a goal in which 10% of electricity in the Palestinian territories is going to be generated through renewable sources by the year 2020. According to the Dr. Kittaneh, the technology for solar energy generation was ready and the allocation of incentives for private sector investment in renewable energy has been approved by the Palestinian Authority.

The PSI drives upon the results of the research on “Renewable Energy Potential and Perceptions towards 2020” presented by Mr. Valvé, evaluating the conditions in the Palestinian territories for the generation of wind and solar energy. Mr. Valvé, the team leader of the consortium “AF-Mercados EMI – Trama Tecno Ambiental”, reminded to consider energy security objectives, economic efficiency and job creation as well as environmental policy in order to achieve and maintain sustainable energy production. The first panel of the conference was concluded by Dr. Imad Ibrik, the director of the Energy Research Center at An-Najah University. Dr. Ibrik provided a valuable insight into the current research, future perspectives and general role of Palestinian universities in the field of solar energy conservation and efficiency. He demonstrated the essential role of Palestinian universities in the fields of research, capacity building, training and raising public awareness.

The opening presentation of the second panel titled “Unleashing the potential I: tariffs, pricing models and incentives” was held by Mr. Zafer Milhem, Executive Chairman of the Palestinian Electricity Regulatory Council. Mr. Milhelm spoke about the role of the Palestinian Electricity Regulatory Council (PERC) in electricity distribution and tariff setting.

In the following presentation with the title “Design of feed-in tariff policies” Dr. Tim Hoffmann, Senior Energy Advisor for Lahmeyer International, analyzed the chances and risks of feed-in-tariffs as an instrument to increase the use of renewable energy.

The third panel was opened by Mr. Abdullah Sha´rawi, Business Development Manager at PADICO, who shared his experiences with private sector investment in renewable energy. Mr. Sha´rawi provided an impetus for private business involvement in the Palestinian territories while assessing regional business incentives as well as global trends in investment in renewable energy. He was quick to remind the audience of the essential role of a competitive business environment for a predictable, accountable and transparent investment climate. To achieve this goal, Mr. Sha´rawi recapitulated the necessity of taking into consideration the concerns of the private sector in the policy-making process.

The representative speaking on behalf of the deputy minister of the Palestinian Ministry of National Economy, Mr. Abdelhafiz Nofal, stressed the importance of the legal and regulatory framework for attracting investment and enabling business. She explained the importance of promoting new technologies as well as creativity to keep up with other countries.

The potential of local value creation in the Palestinian territories regarding photovoltaic and solar thermal systems was discussed by Dr. Thomas Schlegl, the head of strategic planning at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE. Dr. Schlegl provided a valuable insight into the industry assessment for solar technologies and the assessment of local value creation.

Eng. Nader Betar, representative of Electrohydrolic Co. and member of the FPCCIA´s Renewable Energy Committee, directed the attention of the audience to the owners of smaller renewable energy facilities. Mr. Betar highlighted especially the assets of net metering for the production of renewable energy in homes and small enterprises as representatives of private energy generators.

Eng. Mohammad Tamimi held the concluding presentation of the conference, which offered an example of successful implementation of renewable energy projects. Mr. Tamimi introduced the EU co-sponsored Ahli Wind Energy Project (AWEP), which would directly benefit the Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron. According to the goals of the project, the grid-connected wind turbine and the solar thermal system would generate 30 – 40 % of the power needs of the hospital.