08/19/2011 06:12

Permits issued to 40,000 square meters of roof space for photovoltaic operations in private, public, commercial, residential areas.

Twenty percent of Eilat and the Arava region’s daylight electricity consumption will come from solar sources within six months, a spokeswoman for the Eilat municipality announced on Thursday.

During the summer vacation months, a dozen Eilat schools are receiving 600 kilowatts worth of photovoltaic panels on their roofs through a bid won by the company Brimag Systems, the spokeswoman said in a statement. Meanwhile, the government has offered those in the region interested in installing panels the opportunity to undergo a shortened licensing procedure to acquire their necessary permits, according to the statement.

Coinciding with this push to get more solar panels on the grid, the municipality has also joined with the Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative and the Israel Energy Forum in a pilot project to save energy in homes, whereby participating residents receive energy saving kits that include bulbs, timer devices and advice for streamlining home electricity use, the spokeswoman said.

Thus far, the Eilat municipality’s engineering department has reported issuing permits to 40,000 square meters worth of roof space for photovoltaic operations in private and public commercial and residential areas, bringing the total installed capacity for the city to 3.5 megawatts of energy, the statement explained.

By September, when Eilat’s more than 4 megawatts of solar energy are connected with the 4.9 ready to go at Arava Power Company’s medium-sized field on Kibbutz Ketura, the 9-megawatt resultant sum will account for 7.5 percent of the total domestic electricity consumption for the region during peak hours, according to the spokeswoman.

Following the expected six-month completion of two additional area solar plants – 6.7 megawatts in Timna and 8 megawatts in Samar – Eilat-Eilot will have enough solar power to fulfill 20% of its daylight consumption needs, the statement continued.

Arava Power Company CEO Jon Cohen felt that the city’s estimates were certainly feasible, though the goals might take slightly longer than predicted to achieve.

“I imagine it’s going to take longer than six months, but within a year I think it will reach 20%,” Cohen told The Jerusalem Post, noting that the region requires 120 megawatts of energy during peak hours.

But he noted with optimism that whether reaching 20% takes six months or a year, there are many more solar developments to look forward to on the horizon, including his own company’s plans to build a 40-megwatt large field.

“This is only a fraction of what’s planned in the Arava,” Cohen said. “If we manage to put all of our plans into action, we will be capable of supplying 100% of Eilat’s peak afternoon needs within less than two years.”