Arava Power Company’s application was approved last night by Israel’s Public Utility Authority for their 40 MW, $150 million photovoltaic solar farm at Kibbutz Ketura, just north of the tourist destination city of Eilat in Israel’s Arava Valley.
Able to ship out one-third of the electricity consumption during Eilat’s peak daylight hours, the solar farm will start to reduce reduce the environmental footprint of the diesel-dependent city.
Beset by infighting between solar companies, as we have covered previously (SBY Solar Blocks Arava Power Solar Field Launch Today and Arava Power Founders Ask: Time for a Six-Day Solar War? ) Arava projects have had to fight.
But Arava’s solar farm is the furthest along in what is frequently described as a “lengthy” regulatory process among a group of nine similar solar projects.
Once through the regulatory minefield – which it hopes to get through by the end of 2012 – Arava expects to be able to build their solar farm within one and a half years, and at a cost of $150 million.
The project will be something of a landmark in Israel, which is falling further and further behind its Arab neighbors in renewable deployment, despite having birthed the solar that powers most of the largest solar projects in the entire world (invented by the Israeli visionaries behind Luz – now BrightSource: Luz Rises Again as BrightSource in California).
A strangely limiting timidity besets a daunting bureaucratic process that has been blamed by energy experts in the region for this strange delay in renewable development in Israel.
Arava, for example, has already endured two and a half years of environmental reviews, which uncovered the hardly novel findings that their solar farm will reduce carbon emissions (ya think?) by some 60,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year, and (duh) will prevent the emission of millions more tons of greenhouse gases each year over the course of its operation.
Eliat is a major Israeli tourist city – where energy consumption is higher in relation to its population compared to other urban areas – and the supply of electricity generated by Arava Power’s 600 dunams (148 acres) solar farm will reduce the city’s reliance on expensive diesel generators for peak generation, by 30 percent.
“Over the next three summers and beyond, the State of Israel is facing a severe energy crisis that is expected to cause continuous power outages,” said Yosef Abramowitz, Co-Founder and President of Arava Power. “Increasing the price of energy and producing electricity from diesel and heavy fuels is a terrible solution for the Israeli public, especially since the government has a chance to develop clean, green energy. I hope this golden opportunity is not missed.”
Capitalizing on its ideal, sun-drenched location,Arava’s solar farm’s total hours of operation are expected to reach 2,200 hours annually.
So party on, tourists!