Israel to build two solar thermal plants for 180 MW

JERUSALEM Thu Jan 5, 2012 3:28am EST

JERUSALEM Jan 5 (Reuters) - Israel awarded licences to build two solar thermal power plants that will produce 180 megawatts of electricity, enough to supply 51,000 households, officials said on Thursday.

One licence to build a 120 megawatt station was granted to a subsidiary of Shikun & Binui, Israel's largest construction firm, the Public Utility Authority said. The second, for a 60 megawatt station, was given to a subsidiary of U.S.-firm Two Sigma, the utility said.

"It's a significant step that will allow Israeli citizens to enjoy clean energy on a large scale for the first time," Energy Minister Uzi Landau said in a statement.

Officials did not elaborate on the cost to build the plants, but said they would go online in 2017 and would provide about 0.5 percent of the country's energy needs.

Israel has been a pioneer in developing solar technology, but the licences were the first for building solar thermal plants in the country. They will help reach Israel's goal having 10 percent of electricity generation come from renewables by 2020.