Ramat Negev – A Solar Superpower
With three major projects for generating electricity from solar energy, Ramat Hanegev is becoming Israel’s renewable energy silo.
In 2009, the Israeli government decided that by 2020, ten percent of its electricity consumption would be produced using renewable energy. This decision is part of an earlier government decision, to reduce power consumption in excess of 20% by 2020. Under this plan, the government decided to initiate the Ashalim project. This initiative is conducted through the Ministry of Energy and the accountant general of the Finance Ministry, who issued BOT (Build, Operate, Transfer) tenders for three electricity production projects powered by three different technologies utilizing solar energy.
1. P.V. project: The Negev Sun Company won the tender for a P.V. technology venture that will provide 35 megawatts at an investment of 400 million NIS. The project has been finalized and approved financially for execution. Now it is waiting for the Israel Electric Company to build Power Line 161 for which all the necessary preparations have been made. At the beginning of 2016, the Ashalim SUN project, an outcome of a partnership between Clal Sun (of Clal Industries) and Sun Edison (a leading American company in renewable energy) will be launched.
2. ‘Negev’ Project (Plot A): Collaboration between the Housing and Construction Company and the Spanish company named Abengoa, a world leader in alternative energy ventures. The project will be constructed on 3,000 dunams, at an investment of 3.7 billion NIS, and is expected to generate 120 megawatts from thermo-solar technology using the parabolic trough method. Ground preparation for the project was completed by the end of August, and construction work will begin in early 2015. The number of employees involved in construction is expected to reach approx. 1,300 people.
Earlier this month, we carried out the procedure for public participation and disclosure procedure about the community-village of Ashalim. The company is preparing to include the residents in the landscape planning, which is intended to create a buffer between the community and the solar energy field. As part of the project budget, $10 million NIS has been allocated for landscape development and for creating a scenic barrier between the Ashalim community and the projects. A similar procedure of public participation will also take place in the Bedouin village of Bir Hadaj. It should be emphasized that the project will proceed cautiously and in accordance with procedures, while ensuring stringent environmental standards. The Company’s policy is to purchase local services whenever possible. The Council is currently involved in discussions with the Housing and Construction Company to find a joint project for the company and the Ramat Hanegev community.
3. ‘Megalim’ Project: This project spans 3,000 dunams, and is expected to generate approx. 120 megawatts of solar energy using the thermo-solar tower method. The scope of investment in construction is $800 million. The developers are the French Alstum company, Bright Source Company, and the Noy Foundation (who are also partners in “Kiryat Hahadracha” (Guidance and Education Campus). The financial aspect of the project has been completed, and the lands are still in the process of being released from the IDF authprities. Ground-work is expected to begin in early 2015.
The Renewable Energy complex in Bik’at Ashalim will bring the natural gas infrastructure to Ramat Hanegev region. For these projects, the State will lay a natural gas pipeline from Neot-Hovav to Bik’at Ashalim. This will allow for the flow of gas to Ramat Beka, The Guidance and Education Campus, Mashabei Sadeh, Ramat Hanegev Industrial Zone, and the Ashalim Valley solar power plants. Another infrastructure that will be promoted within two years is the power line from Telalim Junction to Bik’at Ashalim.
Next year, an additional P.V. project tender is expected to be published. Thus in two or three years Ramat Hanegev will become Israel’s showcase with respect to renewable energy. This energy center is expected to arouse international interest when it comes to solar projects with leading electricity storage technology. We are preparing for this in terms of tourism, and have set-up scenic lookout points and lodging accommodations in the region for visiting delegations and traveling groups.