Israel’s scorching-hot desert will soon be home to massive solar energy farms, bringing Israel closer to its goal of reliance on renewable energy.
The Public Utility Authority on Monday issued nine licenses to establish Israel’s first large-scale solar energy farms.
The largest license was granted to Solar Energy at Kibbutz Gevim in the northwestern Negev, followed by licenses for a group of companies related to Gush Katif evacuees in Moshav Ohad, Zmorot Solar park, Arava Power Company at Kibbutz Ketura in the souther Arava Desert, and Gilat Energy at Gilat, a moshav between Beersheba and Ofakim.
The Arava Power company hopes to have its $150 million, 150,000 panel, 40 megawatt solar field up and running by 2014 on 600 dunams of barren kibbutz-owned land formerly home to a mango grove.
The power from the photovoltaic fields of Kibbutz Ketura alone will be enough to run one third of Eilat, one of Israel’s most popular tourist destinations and one of its biggest energy gluttons, being situated at Israel’s southern-most point, at the bottom of the burning Negev desert. The switch to solar is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 60,000 of carbon dioxide, 160 tons of sulfurous oxide, and 126 tons of nitrous oxide per year.