For Palestinian family, an udder-ly unique power source

2017-04-12 14:13


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Dahriya - Power comes in many forms, but Kamal al-Jebrini's family looked to where others may fear to tread for a new source of it: cow dung.

The family has begun recycling waste from its cows to produce electricity for one of the largest Palestinian dairy plants and even to provide power to some houses.

They discovered the idea during trips abroad and decided cow dung that would otherwise mainly rot in the sun - apart from some used as fertiliser by neighbouring farmers - could be put to better use.

"It was a shame to allow all of that manure to be lost and impact the environment when we can produce electricity with it," said Jebrini, who owns a large farm of about 1 000 cows with his brothers.

He spoke after inspecting the milking room, where workers looked after lumbering cows.

The project in the occupied West Bank is the first of its kind in the Palestinian territories, where renewable energy usually means solar panels.

The family turned to Maher Magalsay, who specialises in renewable energy at the Polytechnic University of Hebron, the major city located nearby in the south of the West Bank, which has been occupied by Israel for 50 years.

Magalsay brought engineers and a large generator from Germany to develop the project that involves using heat to produce methane and biogas from the cow dung, eventually leading to electricity.

He involved his students, including some ex-students who had done apprenticeships abroad.

Now, he proudly shows off two large silos where manure and biogas are stocked to be later cooled and transformed.

It allows the 30 tons of dung produced daily by Jebrini's cows to generate 380 kilowatt hours.

Let there be light 

That's enough to no longer have to pay electricity bills for his company, which sells milk, yoghurt and other dairy products throughout the West Bank and Jerusalem, said Jebrini.

He can even route part of the energy produced to the local electricity company.

There is no power plant in the West Bank, and nearly 90% of the 5.3 gigawatts of energy consumed are bought from Israel.

For certain regions, the bills are taken care of by local authorities or the Palestinian Authority.

When unpaid bills have stacked up, Israel has cut power to cities.

Israeli authorities have long called for the payment of debt for electricity provided to the West Bank and east Jerusalem that they estimate to be about €450 million. 

At the same time, around four percent of Palestinian villages are not connected to the electricity grid, according to official data.

Most of the villages are in the Hebron area - making Jebrini's project even more relevant and an example to be shared.

It certainly doesn't seem to trouble the cows and calves who munch straw under sheet metal roofs.

Their owners hope to do even more.

"In the next phase, we are going to use another generator to produce 650 kilowatt hours, and over the long-term we will reach one megawatt hour," said Magalsay.

With that amount, "we could supply between 200 and 300 houses," he said.

Read more on:    palestine  |  israel  |  renewable energy  |  animals

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.