Palestinian Students Offer Solar Car as Solution to Gaza's Fuel and Energy Crisis

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Credit: Haaretz

Two engineering students from Gaza have built a prototype solar-powered vehicle, hoping to solve the energy crisis in their hometown where fuel and electricity are in short supply.

Khaled Bardawil and Jamal al-Meqati, both 23-years-old, designed and built the solar power vehicle to combat fuel shortage and the constant electrical blackouts plaguing the Gaza Strip.

"We decided to depend on a power that God gave us, which is renewable, alternative and clean energy. So we decided to make a solar vehicle," explained Bardawil.

Electricity blackout disrupts the daily life in Gaza and cripples businesses, as many stores are forced to reduce working hours to save electric spending and residents have to coordinate their social schedule with the times when the power is on.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the densely populated Gaza strip currently receives less than half of its electrical demand of 470 megawatts (MW). This leads to long hours of blackout that last between eight and 12 hours a day.

Bardawil and Meqati's solar vehicle may bring some relief to the energy shortage, although they had trouble finding parts needed to built the vehicle in Gaza.

"The DC (direct current electricity) motors are not available in our city (Gaza) and unfortunately no body knows how to make them in the city, no body knows how to create them. So we had to bring a motor and make a lot of changes to it, and these changes were not easy to make," said Meqati.

Lecturer at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, Mazen Abu Amer, hoped this project would help raise the awareness of solar power usage in the community.

"By building this vehicle we wanted to introduce a prototype as some European universities did. We wanted to spread awareness and the culture of using solar power through these projects. We made this project and it is the first, first in the Gaza Strip, to design a vehicle from A to Z which works on solar power," said Amer.

The Islamist Hamas group, which has run Gaza since 2007 and the rival authority of President Mahmoud Abbas have traded blame over the energy shortage in Gaza.

In the past six years, three wars have broken out between Israel and Hamas. The conflict has "ravaged its already debilitated infrastructure," said a United Nations report in 2015.

Gaza is cut off from the world under a blockade imposed by Egypt and Israel and the economy is in turmoil, with 43 percent unemployment among the territory's 1.95 million people.

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