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.


Disney again makes history with takings above $7bn for 2018

Updated 11 December 2018
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Disney again makes history with takings above $7bn for 2018

  • Box office gross marks second biggest year for Disney
  • Latest offering "Mary Poppins Returns" expected to dominate box office

LOS ANGELES: Walt Disney Studios is again ending the year on a high note, posting more than $7 billion in global box office earnings, thanks to hits such as "Black Panther" and "Avengers: Infinity War."
"This is only the second time in history any studio has surpassed the $7 billion mark, after Disney's own industry-record 2016 global gross of $7.6 billion," the company said in a statement on Monday.
"The Studios' estimated international box office gross through December 9 is an estimated $4.069 billion, marking our second biggest year and the third biggest in industry history," it added.
Disney's success comes as the studio is set to release "Mary Poppins Returns" on December 19, which is expected to top the box office during the holiday season.
"To date, four of the top eight worldwide releases of the year are from The Walt Disney Studios, including the top two global and top three domestic releases," the company said.
"Avengers: Infinity War," made by Disney's Marvel subsidiary, led the way, earning $2 billion alone. It is followed by superhero movie "Black Panther," which earned $1.35 billion worldwide.
"Incredibles 2," made by Pixar, another Disney subsidiary, earned $1.24 billion.
Other top box office earners for 2018 are "Ant-Man and The Wasp," "Solo: A Star Wars Story," and "Ralph Breaks the Internet," which has held the number one spot at the North American box office for the third consecutive week.