Israel PM Declares 155 MW Wind Farm on Golan Heights a ‘National Project’

Wind energy in the Golan HeightsA new “crop” of 70 turbines is slated to be planted in the contested Golan Heights.

Earlier this year, we reported here about a partnership between the Israeli company Multimatrix and the U.S. energy company AES to build a wind farm on the Golan Heights. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave the state’s blessing to this enterprise this week, signing a decree that declares the wind farm a national project, the Globes business newspaper reported.

The timing of this announcement might raise some eyebrows as it comes while the U.S. is conducting intensive efforts to jump start long-dormant Israeli-Syrian peace talks. It is widely assumed that any future peace accord between the two states would entail an Israeli withdrawal from most or all of the Golan Heights, including the site where Multimatrix and AES plan to invest some $400 million in building 70 giant turbines capable of generating a total of 155 megawatts.

Uri Omid, the CEO and controlling shareholder of Multimatrix (a public company, traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange) told Reuters earlier this year that he is not worried about the political future of the Golan: “If the land is returned to Syria in a peace deal, we will be compensated. Regardless, this project can work for us or work for them. Someone will always need the electricity.” Meanwhile, the company has leased land from local Druze residents and is planning to begin construction within six months. The wind farm is expected to be in full operation by late 2012.

‘Largest renewable energy project in the Mideast’

“This is the first very large and practical renewable energy project of its kind in Israel, and in the entire Middle East,” Omid told Globes. “Both the finance minister and the minister of the environment supported the move, and for good reason: they were impressed that one of the solutions to the expected energy shortage in Israel in the coming years is within reach, and not in the depths of the Mediterranean, without the need for special installations to transport gas, without capital market speculation, and without pollution of any kind.”

Lobbying for a higher feed-in tariff

The Globes report did not explain what funding or other benefits come with the “national project” designation assigned by Netanyahu this week. But the report noted that Multimatrix is lobbying the government to receive a higher tariff for electricity sold to the Israel Electric Corp.  Today, Multimatrix argues, the feed-in tariff for solar-generated electricity is more than four times higher than the price paid for wind-generated power.

:: Globes
:: Reuters

Read more on wind energy in the Middle East:

Can Israel’s Wind Power Sector Compete with Solar?
Turkey Blowing and Going on Wind Energy
Coriolis Scales Up for the Wind

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2 thoughts on “Israel PM Declares 155 MW Wind Farm on Golan Heights a ‘National Project’”

  1. Jay Banks says:

    The price is big motivation for investors which invest their money into clean technologies. As the tariff for solar energy is more attractive than the tariff for wind energy it doesn’t do any good… By my opinion the tariff for any kind of clean energy should be equal and on the appropriate level. That is the only way how we can mitigate our dependency on fossil fuels. Of course here are some specific problems about the ownership but I believe that both sides can profit of this source of clean energy.

  2. I wonder if the insurers of this project would be so confident about being compensated if the land goes back to Syria. Of course they’d need energy, but if I were an investor in such an idea I’d be pretty nervous about any change in ownership between countries.

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