Could solar panels power all of Israel?

One team is lobbying for legislation that could make the entire country 100% solar-energy-reliant by 2030, at least during daytime hours.

Solar panel 300 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Solar panel 300
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The southern region of Arava - which includes Eilat - has almost reached its goal of being 100% reliant on solar energy during the day. The team responsible for this believes it will happen within the next year.
Yosef Abramowitz and Dorit Banet, the two who made the Arava solar panel fields, are now lobbying to make the entire country 100% solar-energy-reliant during the day by 2030 according to Ynet. Today, 95% of Israel's electricity is provided by fossil fuels. 
Abramowitz is the CEO of Energiya Global and Banet the CEO of Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy. 
Energiya Global uses the Arava model to build solar and wind power fields throughout Africa while Banet's company is a non-profit that helps promote sustainable energy as an economic tool in southern Israel.
“When the Arava region had the initial goal of 100% daytime (solar energy) by 2020, there were so many naysayers – and for relatively good reasons: cost, space and grid stability, along with regulatory, statutory and political (feasibility),” Abramowitz told The Media Line. “We’ve answered every concern that not just a region would have, but that a country would have.” 
“Solar is around one-third the price of natural gas, but that fact is conveniently buried by politicians and the natural gas companies,” Abramowitz said. “Once Israelis learn that they are paying three, maybe four times more for their power than they should be, they will want solar.”
One major concern about using solar energy is the land required for the panels. Abramowitz explains that “zoning rules are arduous, making it difficult to install the necessary equipment. In addition, vast tracts of land in the region are comprised of nature preserves and military zones.”
Banet and Abramowitz had to work with municipalities, private companies and different kibbutzim to be able to lease the areas to put the panels to power the region. 
He explained that experts used GPA mapping to show the different ways Israel can achieve 100% solar power by 2030. “It will be done by using rooftops on houses, commercial centers and military installations, among other places,” he says.
Currently, Israel's solar energy use is 17% during the day - according to calculations done in Germany. 
However, there are some other issues that need to be considered, such as what happens if there isn't sunlight, and grid stability. 
“In order to get the rest of the country up to 100% solar energy during the day, existing power lines need to be updated so that excess electricity can run from the South to areas in the North of Israel that do not have as much sun, and power grids would need to run differently,” he explained.
“You have to change your way of thinking about the grid,” he continued. “You need independent microgrids that are connected to the main grids, and to manage them differently" - which he says could have security benefits as well. 
“If one solar field is hit (in wartime or by terrorism), it does not impact the rest,” he said. “This is the opposite of Israel’s (conventional) power plants, which are within rocket range of Hamas and Hezbollah, and are responsible for most of the electricity produced.”
Victor Weis, the executive director of the Tel Aviv-based Heschel Center for Sustainability said the biggest problem is public policy. 
“The Israeli government relies on gas,” Weis explained. “It’s a political issue. In the next year, all the world’s governments, not just Israel, must set their climate goals for 2050, so this year is the most crucial to ensure change.”
Climate protests have taken hold in Tel Aviv and around the world in recent weeks- many claiming inspiration from the 16-year-old Greta Thunberg who spoke at the UN Climate Change conference and this effort is gaining traction throughout the country.