golan turbines 224. 88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The National Infrastructures Ministry and the Israel Lands Administration on Sunday published a draft tender for creating new wind farms.
The public's input is requested for the final version. The draft tender is available on the ministry's Web site (www.mni.gov.il) for comment until September 30.
As part of a cabinet decision last year which set a goal of producing 10 percent of Israel's electricity from renewable sources by 2020, the ministry has been putting into play a number of alternative energy plans. Solar power is on its way with feed-in tariffs, and now the ministry wants to encourage wind turbine farms as well.
The draft document offers entrepreneurs the option of leasing land to test its suitability for a wind farm. If the land is found appropriate, the entrepreneur has the right to build a wind farm on it. A 25-year lease will be drawn up.
According to the draft document, the time frame for testing and planning a wind farm could be as long as six years after winning a tender to test a parcel of land.
Although many think the Negev and the Arava are vast, empty deserts, the truth is that most of the land is either a nature preserve, an IDF firing zone or part of a kibbutz. So finding a location for a wind farm may not be simple.
While efforts to map the country's wind potential began 30 years ago, there has been no significant advancement. Former Israel Electric Corporation employee Dr. Eli Ben-Dov has measured wind flow in most of the country over the last 30 years. Yet despite years of pushing, first from within the IEC and then as a private entrepreneur and scientist, Ben-Dov had very little success until recently.
At present, there is only one facility operating in Israel - Mei Golan Wind Energy on the Golan Height's Mount Bnei Rasan - producing a paltry six MW. However, Ben-Dov's Afcon recently signed an agreement with the IEC to build two wind farms, one at Ma'aleh Gilboa and one at Ramat Sirin, for another 22 MW.
Now, the ministry wants to encourage wind farms in the Negev and Arava. Given the right wind conditions, wind turbines can be a serious source of power. Denmark, for instance, produces 16.5% of its electricity from alternative energy (mainly wind) and is aiming for 30% by 2025. While Israel may not have the same blustery breezes as those which caress Scandinavia, Ben-Dov has said that wind potential exists in Israel.
Moreover, Israeli startups like Leviathan Energy are working on new turbines that produce electricity at very low wind speeds.
While Israel's "energy crop" will continue to remain solar, wind farms should not be discounted as a source of renewable energy as well.