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July 14, 2017 10:08 am

Southern Israel Blooms With Fields Harnessing Solar Energy

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A solar panel in Israel. Photo: Wikimedia Commons. – Major solar energy projects are nearing completion in the southern Israeli communities of Ashalim and Kibbutz Sde Boker, marking the latest phase of the Jewish state’s significant prioritization of renewable energy.

To date, Israel has invested upwards of $850 million in new solar energy projects in the Negev desert. Megalim Solar Power has recently completed the construction of the world’s tallest solar tower in the Negev. Plot B, the thermo-solar power station in Ashalim, is one of the largest projects of its kind in the world, and is also Israel’s first commercial thermopower facility to be based on solar tower technology. The project includes 50,600 computer-controlled mirrors, with a surface area of more than 215 square feet each, covering an area stretching more than 1.2 square miles.

The mirrors, or heliostats, are designed to follow the sun in two axes and keep reflecting sunlight toward a predetermined target, in this case a water heater placed on top of a 656-foot-tall tower that generates high-temperature, high-pressure steam. The steam is pumped into a generator turbine that produces electricity. The heater was placed on top of the solar tower earlier this month, in a complex engineering feat.

The facility is expected to supply a total of 320 gigawatts of electricity per year to Israel’s power grid, and a Megalim official said the facility should be fully online before the end of the year.

“We are proud that we are part of achieving the [government’s] goal of having 10 percent renewable energy in Israel by 2020,” Eran Doron, leader of southern Israel’s Ramat Hanegev Regional Council, who headed the efforts to establish a solar power station in the area, told Israel Hayom on July 12.

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