JERUSALEM May 22 Israel's Arava Power said on
Tuesday it secured 780 million shekels ($204 million) in funding
to build eight medium-sized solar energy fields - the largest
financial closing in the country's solar power industry.
Much of Israel is covered by desert with favorable
conditions for harnessing the sun's energy, and while Israeli
firms have developed a number of pioneering technologies used
around the world, the country has yet to invest heavily in solar
fields at home.
The government recently set a goal of 10 percent of its
energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020.
Five of Arava's fields, totaling 35 megawatts, will be built
by Siemens Israel in the southern Negev desert at a cost of $130
million, the company said in a statement. Construction on the
first of the five fields will begin in a few months.
German conglomerate Siemens owns 40 percent of
The other three fields, totalling 23 MW, will be built in
southern kibbutzim, or agricultural communes, in partnership
with EDF Israel, the renewable energy branch of the French
operator EDF in Israel, Arava said.
EDF has said it sees the potential for further investments
in Israel and has already submitted requests to the state to
close on five more similar projects.
"These installations to be built in the Negev Desert are yet
another step towards energy independence for the State of
Israel," said Arava CEO Jon Cohen.
Tuesday's announcement is part of a larger plan by Arava to
build over 40 solar projects, from fields to rooftop operations,
totaling over 400 MW and an investment of about $1.5 billion.
"Our work is not yet done. Israel needs to adopt the
European Union goal of 20 percent renewables by 2020 and this
major milestone by Arava Power is proof positive that it can be
reached," said Yosef Abramowitz, co-founder and president of
Financing for the eight fields was secured by Israel's
largest commercial lender, Bank Hapoalim, Migdal
Insurance and pension fund Amitim.
($1 = 3.82 shekels)
(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Steven Scheer)