Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom took part on Tuesday in inaugurating the
country’s largest solar field, a 10-megawatt photovoltaic “oasis” developed by
SunPower on land belonging to Moshav Mivtahim in the northern
“Renewable energies are the future of the electricity sector,”
Shalom said at the launch ceremony. “The development of renewable energy will
lead to the diversification of energy sources and thus ensure energy security
and availability in the Israeli electricity market.”
The project, which
encompasses 25 hectares of land at the moshav, is expected to provide power
equivalent to the needs of about 3,000 households, according to SunPower. With
its installed capacity, the facility will generate about 22 million kilowatts
per year of clean energy.
Requiring an investment of approximately NIS
150m., the solar field took about seven months to construct, explained SunPower
Israel Corporation CEO Uri Zarur.
“The potential of solar energy in
Israel is still far from realization,” Zarur said. “It is very important that
already during 2014 there will be continuity in order to enable the ongoing
investment in the industry, attracting international investors to Israel and
establishing a real industry here long-term.” Getting the 10-megawatt field
online at this time will help the country meet its electricity demand during the
rest of the hot summer months, he added.
Also partaking in the launch
ceremony were investment executives from the Noy Fund and Enlight Energy, which
together recently purchased SunPower’s Mivtahim site and a future 10-megawatt
facility at Talmei Bilu for a grand total of NIS 157m.
SunPower Israel is a subsidiary of the global SunPower group, located in San
Jose, California and having daughter companies around the world.
managing partners Ran Shelach and Gil-Ad Boshwitz emphasized their excitement at
being part of the group to acquire the SunPower fields, adding that the project
was “very attractive in the growth of renewable energy in
Reiterating the significance of the project, Shalom explained
that his ministry sees “the development and the advancement of alternative and
green energy sources as an important goal.
And we set a target that by
the end of the decade, 10 percent of Israel’s energy needs will be supplied
through renewable energy resources.”
Also at the Shalom also stressed
that work toward adopting principles suggested in the Kandel Report on renewable
energy rates was in its final stretch and, after a long delay, would recommence
soon. Drafted by a committee led by National Economic Council head
Eugene Kandel, the report suggests that the Interministerial
Committee for Renewable Energy lower the tariff paid to renewable energy
producers, which Shalom said would help lower the price of electricity to
Also on Tuesday, Shalom took part in a ceremony at which a
factory at Ramat Hovav began using low-pressure natural gas. Koffolk, Phibro
Israel’s manufacturer of vitamins for animals, thus joined an increasing number
of industrial giants in Israel that have been hooking up to natural gas. Koffolk
is the first company in the Negev to connect to natural gas through a private
distributor – Supergaz – and the second company in the country to connect to a
low-pressure network, the firm explained.
“The connection to natural gas
energy will be cheaper and cheaper,” Shalom said at the ceremony. “Every
connection of an additional plant to natural gas gives the plant the opportunity
to... compete much better.”
The increased use of natural gas reduces
electricity prices, lowers water prices and provides more disposable income and
cheaper production generation, Shalom explained.
At the end of the day,
however, Eitan Parness, CEO of the Renewable Energy Association of Israel,
warned that “the euphoria” surrounding natural gas was “dangerous.”
way toward diversifying Israel’s energy resources and creating a strategic and
secure alternative for the electricity market is through renewable energy,”
Parness said. “Solar energy belongs to the public, which will continue to reap
its benefits for years to come.”