Golan Heights wind farm construction to begin soon

$400 million project set to get underway as fears continue to loom over energy shortages; Netanyahu on board.

By KALINDI O’BRIEN / THE MEDIA LINE
September 27, 2010 22:42
3 minute read.
Golan Heights wind farm construction to begin soon

wind farm 88 224. (photo credit: )

Construction will soon begin on a large wind farm in the northern Golan Heights as Israel seeks out more alternative energy sources to power the nation.

The Israeli company Multimatrix in collaboration with the American AES have invested $400 million to build a wind farm between Mas’ade and Majdal Shams. The 70-wind-turbine farm will be capable of producing 200 megawatts of energy. 

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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has declared the plan a national project, as fears continue to loom over energy shortages. The project was widely supported by government officials who see a growing need for alternative energy sources in Israel.

“This project is going to start a revolution,” Yosi Omid, Director of Multimatrix exclaims. “There is a big debate about the future of electricity production in Israel and about how Israel in 10, 20, 30 years will make electricity. This is our contribution to Israel, showing that we can make electricity in a green way.”

“In the Golan Heights it is also political; it is a peace project. In this area we never know what the future will be,” Omid told the Media Line. “For the Syrian Government and the Israeli Government this will be something that will unite all the people for a good reason.”

Yosi Omid and his brother, Multimatrix CEO Uri Omid, are confident that any future changes to the political situation would not affect their project in the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau which Israel captured from Syria during the 1967 war. Syria has sought the return of the Golan in any peace deal with Israel.

“This project will continue no matter who will be there. The project is to make electricity and you never have to destroy it. It is making green electricity, which is good for the environment and the people no matter where the electricity goes,” Yosi Omid told The Media Line.

He was quick to boast that this project is different than all other projects that have come before it.

“Compared to other green projects in Israel it is working, it makes money, it is good for the environment, good for the State, good for societies and all other things,” Omid said. “Think, now the pessimists cannot make any jokes about green projects!”

Israel’s Public Utility Authority (PUA) is the organization responsible for overseeing and issuing licenses to companies building power plants.

“The electricity laws state that in order to be issued a license from the PUA, the company has to show us three very important things,” Hila Shamir, head of licensing and supervisor at the PUA told The Media Line.

“One, the company has the rights to the land. In this particular project, the company showed us contracts they had with individuals that owned the land they wanted to build on. Two, we check the financial situation; we have to ask and see if they have 20 percent of the money that is needed to build the power plant. Finally, we have to check if the company can really deliver the power, whether they can deliver it to the nation,” explained Shamir.

When asked about whether the PUA or Multimatrix was met with any opposition during the licensing period Shamir said they were not.

The company had initially set out to build a 380-megawatt farm.

“Due to the land rights and the bank ability of this kind of big project they decided to minimize to 200 megawatts and 100 or fewer turbines,” Shamir told The Media Line.

The PUA is in the process of creating a new procedure for green power plants. The PUA hopes to pave the way for more alternative energy sources in Israel by making this process more simplified.

Yosi Omid remains extremely optimistic about the prospects for alternative energy in Israel.

“I hope people reading know that this is happening and it is happening now. This project is making a revolution for all the country. And if you look at what the Prime Minister says it is answering the people’s prayers that the green way will win in the end,” Omid asserted.


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