50-megawatt photovoltaic park in Timna.
(photo credit: PR)
Aiming to power the Eilat-Eilot region entirely through solar energy by the end of 2016, renewable energy developers in the region will soon be issuing a tender for a 50-megawatt solar field in the Timna Valley.
Slated to be called Timna Solar Park, the photovoltaic cells – enhanced with solar tracking devices – will be set up on a 100-hectare plot of land adjacent to the former Timna Mines. By the time construction on the field is completed in 2016, solar facilities in the region are set to collectively power the entire 150-megawatt peak electricity demands of Eilat and the Arava, Dorit Davidovich-Banet, CEO of Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
“The new Timna Solar Park offers bidders and their investors an attractive opportunity to build a profitable solar energy field supported excellent infrastructure and a dynamic renewable energy ecosystem,” she said.
The project will be administered by the Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative, a body responsible for leveraging the southern Arava and Eilat regions by establishing research facilities, producing clean energy, creating jobs in the sector and developing training programs.
“The Timna Solar Park will substantially increase Israel’s renewable energy production and will play an important role in diversifying the country’s energy mix,” said Eitan Parnass, director-general of the Green Energy Association of Israel. “This project also holds the potential to serve as the basis for international cooperation throughout the region with connectivity and supply of solar energy to the national grids of neighboring countries.”
Allocation of the land for the Timna Solar Park has already been approved by the Israel Lands Authority, and the tender for the project is scheduled to be published on October 19, available to bidders worldwide. As part of the bidding process, all qualified bidders will receive detailed maps of the region and a completed environmental impact assessment, and will then be required to submit proposals to the National Council Planning and Building.
"It's going to be a first in hopefully a series of 170 megawatts in that zone, by 2020," said Davidovich-Banet, who also serves as the chairwoman for the upcoming Eilat-Eilot Green Energy Conference in December.
The 50 megawatts planned for this first stage, however, will still be enough to ensure that the entire Eilat-Eilot area is powered by solar energy, Davidovich-Banet stressed. Today, the region already has about 65 megawatts installed, which will then be followed by a 40-megawatt field being built by Arava Power Company at Kibbutz Ketura as well as the soon-to-be tendered Timna Solar Park, she said.
At peak hours, the Eilat and Arava region collectively consumes about 150 megawatts, according to Davidovich-Banet.
"We want to produce even more and shift it to nighttime storage," she said.
While all electricity generated by solar means in the region does technically feed to the national grid, the Israel Electric Corporation ensures that this electricity serves that region directly, rather than transmitting more electricity from Ashkelon, Davidovich-Banet explained. Only when the area needs additional power does the IEC divert electricity from Ashkelon there, she said.
As far as nighttime storage is concerned, Davidovich-Banet said that technologies are constantly being developed, and she expects to have an "advanced beta site" of 10 megawatts worth of storage in Timna by 2015. Already, a 1.5-megawatt beta storage facility is being tested at the Rotem site in Dimona, she added.
"We are hoping that the region will reach 100 percent energy independence daytime and nighttime, and at the same have time power stations and many mechanisms for storage," Davidovich-Banet said. "This is our mission."