A town in the Jezreel Valley, Israel prefers its weather sunny, and not only for clear blue skies and golden sunshine.
Over 70 percent of the rooftops in Ram-On, a small picturesque town in Israel’s north, are covered in Germany-based Aleo Solar photovoltaic panels for a total capacity of 1,250 kW that both powers the town and, when produced in excess, is fed back into the local grid.
While Israel has slowly gained recognition as a world innovator in solar technology, and recently approved installation of several medium-scale projects in the country’s southern Negev desert, Israel still lags behind in small-scale residential installations.
To incentivize these projects, in 2008 the Israeli government authorized a 20-year 1.97 NIS-per-kWh feed-in tariff for residential projects up to 15 kW with a construction cap of 50 MW over 7 years.
If consumers manage to produce excess electricity they sell back to the grid, as in Ram-On, they have the ability to make even more money from the solar panels. That’s why Aleo Solar says deployment in Israel has been so succesful over the past few years.
But small-scale projects aside, Israel has also deployed few medium or large scale solar installations. The country’s largest installation is a 4.9 MW solar field in Kibbutz Ketura, which was built by Arava Power with the promise of a 20-year power purchase agreement from the Israeli government.
Yet Israel’s total solar capacity is currently under 48 MW, something the government is hoping to change as it races towards a 10% renewables goal by 2020. Residents like those of Ram-On may hold the keys to solving at least a piece of Israel’s energy puzzle.