Aug. 9 - Palestinian engineers in the resource-poor West Bank city of Hebron have built a solar-powered car in an effort to find an effective alternative to costly fossil fuels. Matthew Stock reports.
In the busy, noisy streets of Hebron in the West Bank, this solar-powered car may well become a driving force for renewable energy and energy independence. Built by engineers from the Royal Industrial Trading Company - which normally makes sanitation and water supply products - the car is equipped with solar panels that harness the sun's rays and charge its 50 volt battery. Company director Nabeel Zghayyar says the car was built to display his firm's eco credentials, but he has plans develop the vehicle as an alternative to costly fossil fuel-powered cars. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) NABEEL ZGHAYYAR, DIRECTOR OF ROYAL INDUSTRIAL TRADING COMPANY, SAYING: "This car which we produced works with solar panels. The idea was to produce it for a conference on the environment and we wanted a car that is eco-friendly. We were thinking of inventing this car to use inside the factory, and our next step is to construct more cars." The car can hit speeds of 12 MPH (20 km/h) and run for around 10 hours on a single charge. In the winter when solar rays are in short supply, the car can also be plugged-in to charge. Engineers took around two months to design and build the car using materials from the company's factory, at a cost of around 5,000 dollars (USD). The company is a strong advocate of renewable energy sources, saying alternatives must be found because of the cost of traditional fuels. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) NABEEL ZGHAYYAR, DIRECTOR OF ROYAL INDUSTRIAL TRADING COMPANY, SAYING: "Royal company is eco-friendly, we have many things that are powered with solar power. This house is getting electricity through the alternative power. We have solar panels to turn on the electricity in the factory. We need to have alternative power because the power is expensive in Palestine." Harnessing solar power in the aid-dependent Palestinian economy, could provide West Bank residents with an escape from fluctuating fuel prices. The company hopes to build on the success of their design. They say solar power promises a bright future.