Greenwashing the Naqab The Israeli Industry of Solar Energy

In-depth Report | Feb 2017

This flash report comes as a follow up report for Who Profit’s in depth report titled “Greenwashing the occupation: The solar energy industry and the Israeli occupation”, which was published in February 2017. While the latter exposes the political economy of Israeli solar energy in the occupied West Bank, particularly in the Jordan Valley area, this flash report sheds light on Israel’s capitalist ventures of solar energy projects in the Naqab (Negev) area where the native population of Palestinian Bedouins, faces acute and severe living conditions alongside forcible displacement policies.

This flash report comes as a follow up report for Who Profit’s in depth report titled “Greenwashing the occupation: The solar energy industry and the Israeli occupation”, which was published in February 2017. While the latter exposes the political economy of Israeli solar energy in the occupied West Bank, particularly in the Jordan Valley area, this flash report sheds light on Israel’s capitalist ventures of solar energy projects in the Naqab (Negev) area where the native population of Palestinian Bedouins, faces acute and severe living conditions alongside forcible displacement policies.

As exemplified below, due to Israel’s dispossession of Palestinian electricity networks in the Naqab, the Palestinian population and economy suffer immensely from a chronic electricity crisis, which directly precludes economic growth and impedes long-term development. In recent decades, the Israeli government has focused on the Naqab desert as the next location for its Israeli urbanization and industrialization projects. While supported also by the “Negev Development Authority”, this Israeli policy is directly leading to the de-development of the Bedouin native population and economy. According to current governmental publications, the coming decades in the Naqab desert will see rapid economic changes. In fact, in the upcoming years, amounts exceeding 30 billion NIS will be invested by governmental and private entities into new Israeli industrial, military, and civil projects. Construction projects of a new military center and a new industrial park are already set in motion and will soon materialize into facts on the ground.

As development investments are poured into Israeli projects in the Naqab, the Bedouin economy suffers immensely from chronic deficit. Until today, Bedouins of the Naqab are the most vulnerable community in Israel, ranking at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder. For over 60 years, the indigenous Arab Bedouins have been engineered into a cheap labor class, facing a State policy of de-development, displacement, and dispossession of their ancestral land. As a result, they have been systematically denied a viable local economy.

Palestinian Bedouin citizens live in 35 villages which the Israeli State considers “unrecognized” and denies these citizens access to water, electricity, sewage, education, healthcare and roads. According to the Adalah Legal Center: The State deliberately withholds basic services from these villages to “encourage” the Arab Bedouin citizens to give up their ancestral land”.

The construction of the large scale solar panel fields in the Naqab is starkly contrasted with the lack of services such communities receive, while facing a systematic policy of forcible displacement.

The Naqab area was the first to witness Israel’s newly licensed solar commercial fields that have been expanding ever since their initial establishment in 2011. At present, according to Who Profits’ findings, there are 6 major solar fields, producing each over 5 MW of electricity. Together, these fields take up 210 hectares of land, and generate 224.5 MW of green electricity. [1]

All electricity generated from Israeli solar fields, including those in the West Bank, is sold to the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC), a government-owned public company that “generates, transmits, distributes and supplies most of the electricity used in the Israeli economy.”[2] The price paid by the IEC for solar-based electricity is four times higher than for regular electricity. [3]

 


[1] According to Who Profits’ findings Ketura Field takes up 8 Hectares of land and generates 5 MW; Ramat Hovav Solar field takes up 48.5 Hectares of land and generates 37.5 MW of electricity; Ashalim solar field takes up 75 Hectares of land and generates 121 MW of electricity; Zmorot solar field takes up 60 Hectares of land and generates 50 MW of electricity; Sde Boker takes up 9 Hectares of land and generates 5 MW of electricity; Hatzerim field takes up 10 Hectares of land and generates 6 MW of electricity.

[2] Israel Electric Corporation, “What Does the IEC Do?,” iec.co.il.

[3] Liora Lukatch-Givon, “What Is a Solar System, and the Israeli Aspect” (Hebrew), greentops.co.il.





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