The first licenses to build photovoltaic (PV) and thermal solar-energy plants have been granted, the Public Utility Authority announced Wednesday. The Arava Power Company received the first PV license in Israeli history on Tuesday, allowing it to build a 4.9 megawatt solar plant at Kibbutz Ketura in the Eilot region of the Arava desert. The first solar thermal plant of 100 kilowatts will be built by Edig Solar. The licenses must be approved by National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer. "This is an historic day for renewable energy in Israel," Arava Power Company president Yosef Abramowitz said in a statement. "For the first time, a large solar project is being launched that will be connected to the national grid, with many more megawatts on the way in the coming years. The Public Utility Authority is making a reality Ben-Eliezer's dramatic decision to produce thousands of megawatts of electricity from renewable sources by 2020." The Arava Power Company also praised the Public Utility Authority for its diligent work in creating the license. According to the authority, the licenses will be granted for 18 months, at the end of which the plants are expected to have been built, connected to the grid and financially viable. Arava said it would begin building the power plant at a cost of NIS 120 million as soon as the new feed-in tariffs for medium-sized plants were approved. Abramowitz has said that a rate of NIS 1.80 per kilowatt hour would make the project viable economically. The plant would cover about 80 dunams, the authority said. Arava recently worked out an agreement with 15 kibbutzim in the Negev and Arava to use their land for solar fields. Edig Solar uses technology developed at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot. The plant is expected to become operational in March. PV solar energy uses solar panels, either of silicon or thin film, to transform sunlight directly into electricity. Solar thermal plants use mirrors to focus the sun's rays onto a tower. The heat turns water into steam, which then causes a turbine to spin, producing electricity.