US firm to build solar plants in blackout-plagued Gaza

Gaza could have three new solar power plants operating by April according to the US energy company that is building them. (Reuters)
Updated 18 October 2017
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US firm to build solar plants in blackout-plagued Gaza

GAZA: The Gaza Strip will have three new solar energy plants operating by April, the US-based energy firm behind the project said on Tuesday, providing the territory with some relief from daily blackouts but far from meeting its severe power shortages.
Gaza was already chronically short of electricity before West Bank-based Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cut payments for Israeli-supplied power to the territory in June, attempting to pressure the rival Hamas group to relinquish control of the Gaza Strip.
Despite hopes of a reconciliation deal between the two sides, these sanctions are still in place. Gaza’s daily power needs are estimated at nearly 600 megawatts. Israel, Egypt and the enclave’s only electrical generating plant currently supply 165 megawatts.
Solar power plants will be built in three areas in the Gaza Strip and in total produce 40 megawatts of electrical power as early as April, said Volker Gutjahr, technical director of the Samaha Group.
The project, called “Turn on the lights in Gaza,” was announced at a ceremony on Tuesday in the territory attended by company representatives and Palestinian officials.
“The capital will be around €50 million, plus or minus, because this is an unknown territory, so we never know what surprises may come up,” Gutjahr told Reuters.
Gutjahr said the first shipment of equipment for the solar plants should arrive in March and will reach the Gaza Strip via the Israeli Mediterranean port of Ashdod.
Wail Elawoor, CEO of Arab Orient Technology Services, the local partner in the venture, said approval for the project came from the Energy Authority of the Palestinian Authority, the self-rule body headed by the Western-backed Abbas.
The project will create jobs for local engineers and workers under supervision of US and German technical experts, Elawoor said.
Hamas, which is considered a terrorist group by the US and other Western countries, turned over civil control of the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority two weeks ago. It had seized the territory in fighting in 2007.


Stronger US dollar unlikely to derail bullish view on commodities — Goldman Sachs

Updated 21 min 15 sec ago
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Stronger US dollar unlikely to derail bullish view on commodities — Goldman Sachs

  • The dollar has been lifted by a stronger-than-expected US economy, the world’s largest
  • A stronger greenback makes the purchase of dollar-denominated international commodities more expensive for holders of other currencies

BENGALURU: Goldman Sachs said a stronger dollar is unlikely to derail its bullish view on commodities, which are likely to find support from physical shortages.
The dollar has been lifted by a stronger-than-expected US economy, the world’s largest, and that’s a positive sign for global growth, the US investment bank said.
The US dollar index has lost more than 1 percent this week, but this follows months of strong demand over US-China trade-related tensions, as investors bet the greenback would gain at the expense of riskier currencies.
“The risk aversion this summer created significant emerging market destocking, particularly in China, as consumers attempted to avoid a strong dollar and tariffs by liquidating inventories,” Goldman said in a note dated on Thursday.
A stronger greenback makes the purchase of dollar-denominated international commodities more expensive for holders of other currencies, making buyers and users more likely to draw on any stored materials in preference to imports.
“This liquidation, however, has a physical limit with Chinese destocking having already created significant increases in physical (premiums) for oil and metals – a sign of physical shortages.”
Going forward, oil had a strong fundamental outlook helped by US demand growth, supply losses and disruptions, and still constrained US shale output, Goldman said.
The bank said its near-term Brent crude oil price target remained at $80 a barrel.
The bank said it was moderating its bullish view for gold due to a sell-off in emerging markets, and it lowered its 12-month price forecast for the metal to $1,325 per ounce, down from $1,450 an ounce earlier.