Like Water for Solar Power

new trilateral climate cooperation between the UAE, Israel, and Jordan

Israel needs to transition to renewable energy. The Kingdom of Jordan desperately needs water. In an agreement that the United States helped to broker, the two countries agreed to a swap to meet both of their needs: Jordan will build a 600-megawatt solar park to export energy to Israel, while Israel will provide 200 million cubic meters of drinking water for Jordan. It's a whole new level of climate cooperation between two countries that made peace years ago, but who are now seeing in the climate challenge opportunities to align much more closely and publicly.  Another groundbreaking development? The solar park is being financed and built by the United Arab Emirates, which only last year in the Abraham Accords recognized the State of Israel and sent an Ambassador to the Jewish State.

"This is a message to the whole world about how countries can work together to combat the climate crisis," Israeli Energy Minister Karine Elharrar said in a statement. "Israel and Jordan are two countries with different needs and capabilities that can help each other cope with challenges in a greener, cleaner and more efficient way."

Stanford: Study reveals a deepening water crisis in Jordan, March 29, 2021.

Why This Matters

The trade addresses the two countries' needs that will only intensify in coming decades: clean energy and clean water. The Middle East as a region is on the front line of the climate crisis, warming twice as fast as other world regions. When the deal was made public in November, Axois called it "the biggest regional cooperation project ever undertaken between Israel and its neighbors," made possible by Abraham Accords that normalized political relations between Israel and the UAE.

Plan Details

The fruits of this agreement become reality later in the decade. The solar plant, built by the UAE government-owned firm Masdar, won’t be online until 2026. It's expected to provide about 2% of the renewable energy contributing to Israel's goal of 30% renewable energy by 2030.

The clean electricity supply is linked to Israel providing water for Jordan, either from existing infrastructure or by building a desalination plant capable of hitting the 200 million cubic meter quantity. Israel has been desalinating sea water since 2005.

The plan is informed by recommendations by EcoPeace Middle East, a collaborative effort by Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli environmentalists. Their A Green Blue Deal for the Middle East report aims to:

...highlight regionally focused low hanging fruit; opportunities that can serve as entry points for policymakers seeking to maximize fulfilment of their own countries' self-interests, spurring momentum toward governments creating their own holistic "green blue" plans and providing opportunities for mutual gain and dialogue on region wide integrated programs.