Solar Power Gets Red Carpet Treatment In Israel

The recent opening of Israel’s first ground-mount solar energy plant was more like a gala awards ceremony than a standard ribbon-cutting event. The energy-starved nation says this highlights just how vital solar power infrastructure will become in the future of the Israeli energy mix.
   
It has taken five years for Arava Power Company, one of Israel’s leading large-scale solar developers, to obtain permission to build the 4.95 megawatt (MW) facility. In what the country’s foreign ministry says was "an historic event for Israel, the solar energy industry and the environment," a red carpet was literally rolled across the sand to welcome the hundreds of invited guests to the inaugural event, including government representatives, investors and even the rapper, Shyne, who debuted his latest single, "Solar Energy" to the gathered crowd.
   
The Ketura Sun Project consists of 18,500 high-efficiency Suntech solar panels, which combined produce close to 9 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year. In the course of the next 20 years the field will offset approximately 125,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. The solar field will generate enough to serve the energy needs of about three kibbutzim, or communal-style villages. 
   
In good news for Israel’s energy security, Arava announced it plans to spend $2 billion on 40 new solar projects in the Negev Desert, including large and medium-scale solar fields and rooftop solar energy systems in Bedouin lands.
    
Flipping the switch on the Ketura plant, Arava’s founder and Vice-Chairman, David Rosenblatt, said that if Israel is serious about meeting a planned 10 percent renewable energy target by 2020, the government needed to do more to help green energy.
   
"Today we are celebrating a significant milestone in the history of the State of Israel, but the government is still continuing with its zigzag policy. The time has come to increase solar caps to enable us to meet the goals that the Israeli government has committed to."