Bank Hapoalim lends Arava 80% of project’s cost; other partner is French energy giant Electricite de France.

Arava Power Company has ratified financial agreements to build its 40- megawatt solar field on 60 hectares of Kibbutz Ketura land, the company announced on Wednesday.

Slated to begin construction in a few months, the company will be erecting in the field across Road 90 from its 4.95-megawatt Ketura Sun field – the first ever medium-sized field in Israel.

Once home to mango groves, the area where the large solar field will arise is now entirely sandy and dry.

Arava Power has received NIS 250 million, 80 percent of the project’s overall cost, from Bank Hapoalim, the company said.

Once completed at approximately the end of 2014, the field is expected to cover the equivalent of one-third of Eilat’s electricity consumption.

The project is part of a cooperative engineering and financing framework shared by Arava Power and EDF-EN Israel, part of the renewable energy branch of the French energy giant Electricite de France.

Having received conditional approval for tariff rates from the Public Utility Authority, as well as a power purchasing agreement from the Israel Electric Corporation, the project now joins 10 other Arava Power solar projects receiving financing from Bank Hapoalim, with a cumulative capacity of about 60 megawatts, the company said.

“We are pleased to continue our collaboration with Bank Hapoalim and the EDF-EN company,” said Jon Cohen, CEO of Arava Power.

“The promotion of the large solar field at Ketura is an important milestone in the solar industry in Israel, and a step forward toward energy independence for Israel.”

Founded at Kibbutz Ketura in 2006 by Yosef Abramowitz, David Rosenblatt and Ed Hofland, Arava Power inaugurated its medium field in the summer of 2011.

Miriam Gaz, the manager for Bank Hapoalim’s project financing unit, meanwhile stressed that her company has in recent years been aiming to assist both public and private sectors in switching to renewable energies.

“We hope that the financial close of the project at Ketura will be an incentive to promote more projects in solar energy, and that Bank Hapoalim will strive to continue to play a major role in this industry,” Gaz said.