Israel’s second largest military branch, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) is planning to use solar energy to provide electricity for its air bases and other installations, according to an article published today in Globes financial newspaper. The plan, in which tenders will be given for the construction of small photovoltaic solar plants of up to 5o kilowatts on all its installations, is part of a plan to make these installations as energy independent as possible. Tenders will also be giver later on for larger solar energy plants of up to 50 megawatts. These solar plants will also has a 15 year maintenance contract to keep them in proper operation, according to Globes.
Solar energy in Israel’s military has already been in place in the ground forces division of the IDF with the adoption of portable solar energy plants for use by armor and other ground forces , and it is a well known fact that solar water heating units have in use on army bases as well as in the private sector for more than 50 years.
These plans go along with the entire Israeli military’s desire to reduce energy consumption by making a gradual switch to renewable energy sources. For its part, the IAF hopes that these solar energy plants will enable it to meet its electricity needs on some bases, and even sell surplus electricity to the national grid.
The IAF wants to build a large solar power plant at the Nabatim Air Force Base in the Negev; and is now in the feasibility review stage. The IAF wants to build a 50-megawatt thermosolar power plant, using technology developed in Israel, at an estimated cost of NIS 250. Israeli solar energy companies, especially ones like Arava Power Company will probably be bidding for these solar energy plants.
Arava Power already has an advantage over other companies in that it specializes in constructing small to medium size solar power plants, and which recently entered into agreements to build a number of these plants for 15 Negev region settlements for providing these communities with 100 MW of solar produced electricity.
By installing thermosolar energy plants, which use the suns heat to produce steam to run electric generating turbines, and photovoltaic solar panels, that convert the suns ultraviolet rays into electricity, the IAF hopes to reduce electricity consumption on it’s installations by up to 10% by the end of the year.
What might be next in store for the IAF is the possibility of using a biofuel mixture to power jet aircraft, with companies like Seambiotic now involved in making a quality algae based biofuel in a joint venture with the Chinese.
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