Israel made a deal on Sunday to build a 121-megawatt solar energy plant that can power over 69,000 homes and mitigate 463,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. The new project, along with two nearby plants, will also provide 2% of the country’s electricity.
The $1 billion deal will help Israel reach their goal of generating 10% of their total electricity from renewables by 2020.
Construction of the new plant will take place in the southern Negev desert where another 121-megawatt solar plant is already under construction. A smaller 30-megawatt photovoltaic plant is also planned for the site. All three plants together will provide the 2% of the country’s total electricity consumption.
Solar energy projects of this kind are concentrating solar power plants. Unlike photovoltaic plants, which directly uses solar power to create electricity, concentrating solar power plants use u-shaped troughs that are designed to absorb as much sunlight as possible. The energy from the sun heats fluid inside the troughs, and the plant then uses this heated water to power generators which then create electricity. The plant in Israel will be able to store thermal energy for almost five hours.
The new plant is expected to be finished by 2018 early in the year, and will be built by Spanish firm Abengoa, who specialized in sustainable technologies, and Israeli global infracstructure group Shikun & Binui. Financing is provided by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the European Investment Bank, with some contributions from local banks.
Israel is working to decrease their reliance on fossil fuels, as they expect population growth, increasing quality of life and climate-change-induced warming to increase energy demands over the next 20 years.
The country is taking its commitment to sustainable energy seriously. Only 2% of their electricity currently comes from renewable sources, and they have a long way to go to reach their 2020 goal. Hopefully, that means we can expect to see more solar energy projects here soon.