Energy Independence

Israel’s first solar power station up and running in Negev

By Avi Bar-Eli, The Marker Correspondent, August 28, 2008

Israel’s first solar power station is up and running. Moshe Tenne built the plant on his Negev farm for NIS 1.3 million, and he estimates he will sell NIS 220,000 of electricity a year to the national power grid.
The state incentives to produce solar power took effect on July 1; they allow home and industrial customers to install solar power panels and receive NIS 2.01 per kilowatt hour for the electricity they produce compared with the NIS 0.50 per kilowatt hour they pay the Israel Electric Corporation.
The new agreement is for photovoltaic cell array technology, and the power produced is intended for the producer’s use, while any extra power may be sold to the IEC. The state limits household power plants to 15 kilowatts, and business customers to 50 kilowatts.
Tenne inaugurated his 50-kilowatt solar array this week. It will provide two-thirds of the needs of his central Negev farm, located on the region’s so-called Wine Route. The Tenne family established its farm three years ago, and makes its living from a sophisticated dairy barn with 70 cows producing about 800,000 liters of milk a year.

Tenne’s power plant has thin-film solar panels made by Sharp on 600 square meters of the cowshed’s roof. He also installed another array of multicrystal silicon solar cells, a different technology. These are mounted on systems that track the sun during the day and are spread out over about a dunam of his farmland, about a quarter acre. The arrays were
installed by the company Solar-Power. Tenne paid for the new power generating system with loans and out of his own funds.
The customers will settle accounts with the IEC by offsetting the power they sell back to the electric company each month against the rest of the electric bill, based on the readings of new electric meters. The system is already powering the farm, and will be hooked up to the national grid in another two weeks.
"With the introduction of the new regulations, the project became economically worthwhile. But in addition, it’s necessary," Tenne said. "If electricity prices rise, the IEC’s prices will already meet the cost of solar energy in 2016. That’s another reason the project is worthwhile. It’s more than the need to be independent."
In addition, Tenne is not waiting for the expected wind power incentives to take effect, and he is installing small turbines for electricity production around his farm. The first one is already working as a pilot, producing 1 to 2 kilowatts and operating 12 hours a day. Such turbines cost between NIS 30,000 and NIS 40,000 each.

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