LARGEST PHOTOVOLTAIC POWER PLANT IN ISRAEL TO COMMENCE OPERATIONS

“This is another significant project that will generate electricity for tens of thousands of Israeli homes with clean energy,” said Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz.

The largest photovoltaic (PV) power plant in Israel, set to provide solar energy to approximately 60,000 households, has been granted a permanent license to generate electricity by the Electricity Authority and the Energy Ministry.The license granted to the Shneur Tze’elim plant in the Negev, constructed by Shikun & Binui Solel Boneh and Belectric, will enable electricity production for commercial purposes for a period of 20 years.

The NIS 600 million ($170m.) project spans 125 hectares (309 acres) of land, consists of some 360,000 solar energy panels and is built on land owned by Kibbutz Tze’elim, Be’eri, Re’im, Sde Avraham, Yated and Pri Gan.

The plant is capable of supplying 120 megawatt of power, twice the output of Israel’s previously most powerful PV plant at Mashabei Sadeh. The most commonly used form of solar generation technology, PV plants directly convert sunlight into usable electricity through large quantities of solar cells.

The facility at Shneur Tze’elim was initially designed as a thermo-solar power plant, a more expensive and complex technology for the production of clean energy. A December 2015 government decision, however, approved plans to convert the plant into a PV plant, leading to annual savings of approximately NIS 120m. in operating costs.

“This is another significant project that will generate electricity for tens of thousands of Israeli homes with clean energy,” said Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz. “We will continue to work to advance renewable energy in Israel and, in light of actions taken so far, I am currently looking at increasing the target for 2030 set by the government.”

Israel is reportedly on track to meet its target of converting 10% of the country’s electricity supply to renewable energies by next year. The government is aiming for a cumulative reduction of 17% by 2030.In August, a vast thermo-solar power plant near Ashalim in the Negev was inaugurated, capable of producing 121 megawatts of solar power and supplying electricity to approximately 70,000 households in Israel.

The $1.13 billion plant, a public-private partnership (PPP), was constructed by Negev Energy, a special purpose company held by Shikun & Binui Renewable Energy, Israeli investment fund Noy Fund and Spanish engineering group TSK.

The plant near Ashalim absorbs solar energy through over 450,000 rotating parabolic mirrors, forming long troughs and collector loops. Synthetic oil inside the loops is heated to 390°, and by using heat exchangers, thermal energy is mixed with water to power steam turbines and produce electricity.

The expansive facility sits alongside two additional PV solar plants, with the three projects near Ashalim boasting a combined capacity of 250 megawatts of energy. The neighboring 121-megawatt Megalim Solar Power plant, constructed by General Electric, features the world’s tallest concentrating solar power (CSP) tower.