Int’l firm looks to break into Israeli solar market

SunRay Renewable Energy applies to the Public Utilities Authority – Electricity for licenses to build seven medium-sized solar fields.

February 24, 2010 01:43
2 minute read.
Electric-power generating units at a hybrid solar-

Electric-power generating units at a hybrid solar-. (photo credit: LEON HARRIS )

SunRay Renewable Energy announced on Tuesday that it has applied to the Public Utilities Authority – Electricity for licenses to build seven medium-sized solar fields on moshavim and kibbutzim.

The company plans to erect 65 MW worth of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels and is interested in the large-field market as well when it is ready.

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SunRay Israel Blue White is a wholly owned subsidiary of Malta-based SunRay Renewable Energy. San Jose-California-based SunPower Corp. and SunRay announced earlier this month that SunPower would buy the company for $277 million. SunPower produces solar panels among other things.

SunRay specializes in large-scale photovoltaic plants. SunRay and SunPower recently partnered to build the Montalto di Castro 24 MW plant in Italy. The second stage of that project is to expand the plant to 85 MW. SunRay has projects in Italy, France, Israel, Spain, the United Kingdom and Greece totaling some 1,200 MWs.

The Israeli subsidiary was created in 2008 as feed-in tariffs were launched to enable a solar energy market here. These seven fields would be SunRay’s first project in Israel. Several moshavim and kibbutzim have signed long-term land leases with the company, though it declined to say which.

“SunRay is a leading player in the Israeli market, and will use its financial strength, global experience and the leading technology of SunPower to bring economic development to the region,” SunRay Israel CEO Kobi Katz said in a statement. “As a result, SunRay will help reach the goals set by the government and will ensure the supply of clean and reliable energy to the Israeli market.”

SunRay’s application for licenses follows the recent approval of a feed-in tariff of NIS 1.49 per kilowatt hour for medium-sized solar fields of from 50KW to 5 MW. The tariff for large fields is in the final stages of completion.

Feed-in tariffs are a method to jump-start markets via government assistance. The government has guaranteed to buy the clean energy for the next 20 years to make the initial investment economically viable. Each megawatt costs about $5m. to produce, according to SunRay.

According to Public Utilities Authority – Electricity’s regulations, SunRay has to demonstrate the fiscal solidity to be able to cover 20 percent of the installation cost. In this case, that would come to $65m.

The government has set a quota of 300 MW from photovoltaic medium-sized fields by 2014. SunRay’s 65 MW plans follows Arava Power Company plans to build 100 MW in 15 fields announced earlier this month. Between the two companies, more than half of the quota has already been covered.

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