Israel picks Ashalim group for solar power plant

TEL AVIV, March 6 (Reuters) - The Ashalim Sun PV consortium won a tender to build and operate a 30 megawatt photovoltaic power plant in Ashalim, in Israel’s southern Negev desert, the Finance Ministry said on Tuesday.

Ashalim Sun is a 50-50 joint venture between Clal Sun and SunEdison, which is the solar project development unit of MEMC Electronic Materials Inc.

Clal Sun is 50 percent owned by Israeli holding company Clal Industries from the IDB Holding group. Bank Hapoalim ‘s Poalim Capital Markets owns 10 percent of Clal Sun and SunEdison owns 2.5 percent.

The consortium offered a price of 0.5365 shekels (14 cents) per kilowatt hour of electricity. Four groups submitted bids in the tender.

The solar power plant, which will begin to operate in the first half of 2015, will be one of the largest of its kind in the world, the ministry said. This plant will be built besides two thermal solar plants in Ashalim, which will each provide 110 megawatts of power.

Together, the three plants will account for 2 percent of Israel’s electricity generation and represent a milestone on the way to Israel achieving its goal of 10 percent of electricity production from renewable resources by 2020.

Ashalim Sun will operate the plant for 27 years, after which the government will take ownership. The ministry did not provide details on the costs of building the plant.