High population growth, increasing living standards and rapid industrial growth has led to tremendous energy demand in the Palestinian Territories in recent years. The energy situation in Palestine is highly different compared to other countries in the Middle East due to non-availability of natural resource, financial crunch and unstable political condition.
Palestine is heavily dependent on Israel for meeting its energy requirements. Almost all petroleum products are imported through Israeli companies. Israel controls energy imports into Palestine and thus prevents open trade in electricity and petroleum products between Palestine and other countries.
Energy is increasingly becoming unaffordable for people living in Palestinian areas due to rampant poverty and widespread unemployment. Ironically, fuel and energy costs for Palestinians are one of the highest in the region. The Palestinian power sector is entirely dependent on imported power supply, 88% from the Israel and 3% from Jordan and Egypt.
There is high potential for solar energy in the Palestine, with a daily average solar radiation of 5.4 kWh/m2 which should encourage its use for mass applications like cooking, industrial and domestic heating, water pumping, rural electrification, desalination etc. Although geothermal energy potential in Palestine has not been quantified yet, there has great deal of interest in geothermal energy due to the path-breaking efforts of Ramallah-based MENA Geothermal. Being an agricultural society, Palestine has appreciable amount of animal manure, crop wastes and solid wastes which can be utilized for generation of biomass energy.
Solar energy can be a major contributor to the future Palestinian energy supply, with its high potential in the area. Palestine receives about 3,000 hours of sunshine per year and has an average solar radiation of 5.4 kWh/m. Domestic solar water heating (SWH) is widely used in Palestine where almost 70% of houses and apartments have such systems. Infact, Palestine is one of the leading countries in the field of SWH for domestic purpose. SWH is made locally in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with a production rate of about 24,000 units per year which is considered to be sufficient for the Palestinian market. Solar thermal and photovoltaic systems are yet to take off in Palestinian areas due to high costs associated with such systems.