Harnessing wind energy has never been a priority endeavor in Israel, compared to projects dealing with solar energy. In fact, the only large size wind energy project there has been the Mei Golan wind farm, composed of ten large wind turbines on a hill near the cease-fire border with Syria on the Golan Heights.
The Golan, a windy plateau that was captured from Syria by Israel in the June 1967 Six Day War, is one of the few places in Israel that has enough constant wind velocity to warrant the use of wind power over other forms of renewable energy. past Green Prophet article in which new Golan Heights solar energy projects appeared to be upstaging the Mei Golan wind farm which uses already outdated technology to run a the wind turbines on Tel Asiniya, which generate about 6 megawatts of electricity.
But now, according to an article published in Reuters, the idea of using wind energy is about to get a big boost in a deal involving an Israeli company Multimatrix, which is in the process of buying half of Mei Golan (a subsidiary of the Mei Eden water company), the company operating the wind turbines.
The deal, which is said to be costing between 20 and 25 million US Dollars, will involve the initial construction of seven new wind turbines to be built in 2011 at a cost of around $27 million. Mulitmatrix, together with the U.S.-based AES Corp, hopes to build a total of 160 wind turbines that will generate about 450 megawatts of electricity – considerably than that presently generated by the outdated Mei Golan turbines.
Since the total cost of this project is estimated to coast in the neighborhood of $800 million, it gives an indication of the importance being given by Israeli Energy Minister Uzi Landau on using wind energy as a source of power for generating electricity.
This and other renewable energy projects go along with governmental plans to have at least 10 percent of the country’s total energy needs furnished by renewable energy by the year 2020. Solar energy is still an expensive way to produce electricity, according to Energy Ministry officials. This explains why the use of wind energy is now being given more emphasis; and future wind energy farms are being planned in the southern Negev region, as well as along Israel’s border with Jordan.
The future of the Golan Heights, which is being disputed between Israel and Syria, will be an important factor in constructing such a large wind energy project there. Energy Minister Landau notes that these projects will have to be considered as part of a final negotiated settlement with Syria.
Wind energy technology has progressed considerably since the first Mei Golan turbines were erected back in 1992.
Another Israeli company, Coriolis Wind, is developing a series of vertical turbines which they say can generate more power while taking up much less space than the conventional propeller shaped wind turbines that can be as large as a jumbo commercial airliner.
Whatever method is used, the future of wind energy in Israel has definitely been given a needed shot in the arm by such government endorsed projects as the Multrimatrix/AES one; making wind energy a very viable energy option in Israel and elsewhere as well.
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