The Palestinian Energy Project (PEP) aims to promote affordable and sustainable energy dependence in the West Bank. The project focuses on building the institutional capacity of Palestinian energy institutions; strengthening commercial operations of distribution companies (DISCOs), and implementing select renewable energy (RE) pilot activities. PEP is supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by AECOM.

Selected Outcomes

  • Trained 242 people (F:48, M:194) on renewable and conventional energy functions.
  • Created 25 relevant assessments, policies, strategies, plans, studies, standards regulations or incentives to enhance energy governance.
  • Installed the 230 kWp On-Campus Solar Array Project on the rooftops of four buildings of the Palestine Polytechnic University, directly benefiting 6619 students and staff. With the resulting electricity bill savings, 20 renewable energy students (F:8, M:12) were able to receive partial scholarships.
  • Providing renewable energy tariff structure best practices and recommendations for the Palestinian Electricity Regulatory Council and stakeholders.
  • Improved Utility Management Systems: Provided billing, Enterprise Resource Planning System and document management system to Palestinian Electricity Transmission Company (PETL) to effectively integrate its operations and manage its relationships with Palestinian Distribution Companies and with the Israel Electricity Corporation (IEC).
  • Strengthened Electric Substation IT Communications: Procured Phase I Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system for PETL’s Sarrah substation in order to assist PETL in improving the monitoring and management of the 4 substations that IEC will transfer to PETL.
  • 210 Electricity Connection Points Assessed: Developed an engineering estimate for a complete rehabilitation and standardization of 210 bulk supply electricity connection points, assessed to date. This will strengthen PETL’s management of the transmission grid in the West Bank.

Project Highlight: PORTRAITS OF SUCCESS: Women Champions in the Energy Sector

Hiba Abulibdeh , Executive Director and Board Chair, Sunergy Renewable Energy Solutions.

This portrait is part of the USAID Palestinian Energy Project’s series on Women Champions in the Energy Sector in West Bank, featuring women who have overcome barriers, defied conventions and succeeded in their chosen professions. Implemented by AECOM, PEP builds the organizational and technical capacity of the Palestinian energy sector to support affordable and sustainable energy independence in the West Bank. The hope is that this series will encourage young women to pursue careers in the energy sector, and change the commonly-held belief that the energy sector is a male domain.

Born and raised in Ramallah, Hiba Abu-Libdeh was raised by parents that place a high value on education. Her father has a PhD in Biostatistics and her mother has a degree in Chemistry. Her siblings have advanced degrees in Engineering, Business and Finance from foreign universities. Hiba herself has a bachelor’s degree in Business and Marketing from Birzeit University in Palestine and a master’s degree in Logistics and Supply Chain Management from Cranfield University in the UK, through a Chevening scholarship.

Hiba’s interest in renewable energy started when she was working on her undergraduate thesis about “Impediments to University-Industry Partnerships.” Though renewables were still in their infancy in the West Bank at the time, she interacted closely with the few private sector companies that were operating in this sphere, and became fascinated with the idea of a sustainable source of energy. “Growing up, we are told that energy will run out one day and that our life will be over accordingly, but then comes this small cell that can amazingly absorb the sun and provide us with the energy that we need!”

At the young age of 21, Hiba co-established Sunergy with her father as a company that provides renewable energy solutions using state-of-the-art technology, with offices in Ramallah and Gaza. As the Executive Director and Chairman of the Board, Hiba runs the day to day operations of the organization. The company has now been operating for 7 years and the field has grown considerably, with many competitors offering similar services.

“Competition is intense, and we are in a price sensitive market, so we have to excel, and stand out,” Hiba observes. “We always try to distinguish ourselves with the quality of products and service we provide, with the knowledge and expertise we bring in and with the integrity and honesty we work with. We cannot jeopardize our state-of-the-art work,” Hiba notes.

For a young company, Sunergy has already implemented a number of important projects, including a 2-megawatt solar plant in in Ajja-Jenin. It has provided Rawabi City with water and space heating systems for the first and second neighborhoods, and is in negotiations to provide it with solar systems as well. Shortly, it will embark on a 7-MW project in Gaza.

As a way of giving back, Sunergy has designed a solar training program for recent engineering graduates and workers in every project they implement to help build local capacity in Palestine. “We noticed that there is a gap in the level of expertise between what is needed and what is available in the market so we decided to close that gap, and we have already witnessed some results,” Hiba proudly notes.

At 27, Hiba has already accomplished much in the field of renewables and overcome many obstacles. But some challenges remain. “Two main obstacles I face every day in this industry – first, I’m a female and second, I’m young! Men look at me as though I lack the needed experience and personality!” Hiba seems to takes it all in stride, however. “I’ve learned to toughen myself up, be patient, tolerate all sorts of personalities and most importantly, if I have a point to put forward, I just put it forward, firmly and aggressively, if needed. That’s how I’m where I am now,” she states.

Hiba’s advice to other young women interested in pursuing a career in the energy sector? “If you want to get in, then do it, and do it strongly. This sector is tough but it doesn’t mean you can’t do it, as it is all manageable at the end of the day. RE is the place to be, it is the future.”

For more information on the Palestinian Energy Project’s series on Women Champions in the Energy Sector in West Bank, contact kelly.ryan@aecom.com.