Though not a significant supplier of alternative energy, yet, Israel is just about to get a little greener. The country aims to have 5% of its national energy supply come by way of the wind by 2012. Seems like it is on the way. According to Globes, the Public Utilities Authority has granted a license to mineral water company Mey Golan (Wind Energy Development) to build a $500 million 400 MW wind farm spread over 140 km of the Golan Heights — about 150 turbines. Haaretz reports the deal is worth $600 million and that Mey Golan will partner with US energy giant AES Corporation.
The turbines will be constructed between Majdal Shams and Alonei Habashan, predominantly within privately owned orchards in both Jewish and Druze villages.
Mey Golan (alternately known as Mei Eden, Mey Eden or Eden Springs) is the same company that built Israel’s first wind farm more than 15 years ago in 1992 at Tel Aseniya, also in the Golan, where ten turbines generate 6 MW of energy, which goes to “wind power” local factories and about 20,000 people; the rest goes back to the national grid. The wind power supplies power to Mey Eden water factories as well as the Golan Wineries.
I personally do not advocate drinking bottled water, but do advocate drinking bottled Israeli wine!
(Image Vad Levin, Flickr)
(Candy cane striped wind turbines in the Golan Heights.)
The Minister of National Infrastructures Benjamin Ben-Eliezer is expected to sign the license. Do note, that he is the same person that rubber stamped the construction of a new coal-fired power plant in Israel (so no green love from this Green Prophet).
Wind energy seems to be picking up speed in Israel. Another firm Afcon Industries (Shlomo Group) set aside $100 million to fund wind energy projects, which last we talked to them in March, were negotiating with local regulators in order to install two new wind farms in Israel – one in the Arava Desert in the south of Israel, and one in the north (source: ISRAEL21c).
“We’ve been trying for the last one-and-a-half years to develop wind energy projects here in Israel, but there is a lot of regulation and bureaucracy with regards to the use of the land,” says Afcon Industries’ CEO Avi Winter, in a 21c article I wrote. “It’s also a challenge finding the right places in Israel where the wind is strong enough to make it profitable. The Golan Heights, in the Galilee, and a number of places in the Arava are suitable,” said Winter, unable to disclose the exact locations his company is negotiating over.
Afcon is traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and is one of Israel’s largest industrial groups. The Petah Tikva-based company designs, manufactures, installs and integrates electromechanical systems in Israel and around the world. Sales topped $120 million in 2006, and it currently already supplies electrical systems for industry and trade in Israel.
With respect to wind and clean technology: “If it wasn’t something profitable we wouldn’t touch it,” said Winter.
What does Israel’s Foreign Ministry say about wind’s potential? “Israel’s useable wind energy potential is estimated at 600 MW. It is a limited resource, but nonetheless attractive because it is available in phase with the electricity demand (and of course because it is indigenous and clean). Some very good sites exist, especially in the north of the country.
“A number of actions was taken by the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure (presently the Ministry of National Infrastructures) during the last eighteen years, in order to encourage exploitation of this resource. Among these actions: identification of wind-intensive sites, grants and licensing assistance to windfarm developers, and R&D support.
“Five demonstration turbines were erected in various areas, with Government support. The emphasis has been on application, using imported hardware. A privately-owned 6 MW windfarm (also supported by the Government) has been operating successfully in the Golan Heights for the last seven years. The Israel Electric Corporation is planning a number of windfarms, in the Galilee, in the Negev desert, and in the Arava Valley (the last one in cooperation with Jordan).” (::MoFA, 2002)
Who is AES?
According to their website: From pulsing nightlife and industry in Nanjing to the office towers and barrios of San Salvador, from the irrigated deserts of Qatar and Oman to wind-powered ranches and towns in Texas, AES powers commerce and enriches life in 29 countries on five continents—meeting the world’s growing energy needs.