Arava Power building more than 40 new plants, which will begin providing electricity to some 1,000 residents this summer

Associated Press
Published: 06.26.11, 07:29 / Israel Activism

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Israel is planning an expansion of its solar-generated electricity with preparations to bring the first of more than 40 new solar plants onto the grid this summer.

Arava Power is building the plants, including the NIS 100 million ($30 million) Ketura Sun solar field in Israel’s scorching Negev desert, which will begin providing electricity to some 1,000 residents this summer.

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Israel is pushing to become a world leader in alternative energy, with the government backing cutting-edge technologies and setting a goal to have 10% of its electricity generated by alternative means by 2020.

Israel depends almost entirely for its energy on imported coal and natural gas. Its gas supply from Egypt has become more volatile since President Hosni Mubarak’s February ouster because of attacks on the pipeline and criticism in Egypt over the pricing of the exports.

“Our goal is to green the grid so much that Israel will be the first major economy that will transform itself from carbon-based to solar-based,” Arava President Yosef Abramowitz said recently.

Once connected, the 20-acre Ketura solar plant will produce nearly 5 megawatts. It is expected to sell power to Israel’s Electric Company for NIS 1.52 (45 cents) per kilowatt-hour for 20 years.

A 125-acre plant being built nearby is expected to provide one-third of the electricity needed to power the Red Sea resort city of Eilat, 30 miles (50 kilometers) to the south.

Last year, Israel dedicated a smaller on-grid solar project – an $8.5 million collection of 40 solar panel systems that supplies 2 megawatts, enough to power about 500 homes.

Israel has dozens of solar fields, but most are pilot projects to test new technologies.

Abramowitz said the company aims to produce 400 megawatts at a cost of $2 billion.,7340,L-4083303,00.html