05/22/2013 04:51

A 5- megawatt field will be installed on 9 hectares at Kibbutz Sde Boker, former home to David Ben-Gurion.

The Negev Desert will soon become a little bit brighter with the announcement of two future solar fields, one of which will be built in David Ben-Gurion’s former neighborhood.

Shari Arison’s Shikun Vebinui Group has teamed up with Chinese solar panel giant Suntech Power Holdings, Co. Ltd. to build 11 megawatts worth of photovoltaic panels in two Negev Desert plots. A 5- megawatt field will be installed on 9 hectares at Kibbutz Sde Boker – former home to Ben- Gurion. Meanwhile a 6- megawatt field will crop up on 10 hectares at Kibbutz Hatzerim, just west of Beersheba, and about 55 kilometers north of Sde Boker.

Together, the fields will have an annual production capacity of 19.91 gigawatt-hours and will thereby offset about 13,000 tons of carbon emissions, the companies said.

While the monetary value of the project was not officially published, market sources have estimated the plans to be worth approximately $20 million.

Recalling Ben-Gurion’s vision 57 years ago of constructing a solar field on Kibbutz Sde Boker, the firms stressed how proud they are to be able to fulfill that dream.

Over the past five years, Suntech has deployed over 100 megawatts of solar panels in Israel through its local distributor Enerpoint Israel, accounting for almost half of all of the panels in Israel, according to the firm. The company’s panels power Israel’s first mediumsized and largest solar field to date, Arava Power Company’s 4.95-megawatt Ketura Sun field in the Arava Desert. While Suntech’s solar panels are specially designed to withstand hot desert climates, the company has opened a testing center in the Negev to continue evaluating the most cost effective and efficient panels for the Israeli market, the firm said.

Globally, Suntech has provided more than 25 million photovoltaic panels to over 1,000 customers in more than 80 countries.

“We choose Suntech’s panels for their durability and reliability,” said Amir Levy, CEO of Shikun Vebinui Renewable Energy. “We have worked with Suntech for many years and look forward to a close collaboration in the future.”

Shikun Vebinui Renewable Energy operates electricity production facilities in both Israel and abroad, partaking in the engineering, procurement and construction procedures for photovoltaic stations as well as solar-thermal facilities, the firm said. The company recently acquired 15 megawatts of photovoltaic sites in Spain, generating electricity and selling it to the Spanish grid.

“These solar fields at Sde Boker and Hatzerim will be some of the largest in Israel,” said Ron Shen, Vice President of the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa region for Suntech .

“Our valued partner, Shikun Vebinui, has worked for a longtime to successfully complete these projects. Now that Israel has hit grid parity, we look forward to continuing to work closely with each other to develop the market.”