Israel planning a solar power center near Gaza

Two of the solar power generating plants in what is known locally as the " Gaza Envelope" communities, would use solar thermal technology to supply 180 megawatts of electricity, with the nine others utilizing large-scale photovoltaic installations for a combined output of 500 MW.

The authority has already awarded 25 conditional licenses to groups preparing to build medium-sized solar energy facilities that would produce some 70 MW, more than 50 percent of the combined total output, according to the Globes business news site.

"We expected to see the entire south of the country covered in solar energy fields," PUA licensing chief Moshe Sheetrit told the newspaper over the weekend.

The Authority’s map shows that 25 of the 87 conditional licenses for generating electricity so far awarded to medium-size installations were awarded to installations to be constructed in the Gaza Envelope. The solar fields in the area will supply 70 megawatts, more than 50% of the electricity to be produced under the conditional licenses awarded so far.

Nearly all the planned solar fields will be constructed in the periphery, and non are planned for the Dan region or Jerusalem. "We expected to see the entire south of the country covered in solar fields, but, to our surprise, we discovered that deployment is not uniform, with the Gaza Envelope standing out, compared with the Beersheva area," Public Utility Authority – Electricity licensing head Moshe Sheetrit said.

According to Sheetrit, beyond the economic contribution to the periphery, the decentralization of the installations and the geographic deployment of the networks contribute to the reliability of the national power supply, and save conduction costs to remote areas.

Sheetrit said that the findings demonstrate that fears of Kassam missiles fired from Gaza are not deterring entrepreneurs. The installations are insured against missile hits, and in cases of force majeure they will be entitled to indemnity from the state.

In the future, the medium-size installations will be joined by large ones. So far, 11 applications for large solar power generation installation licenses have been submitted to the Authority, amounting to some 500 megawatts altogether. Two of the large installations will use solar thermal technology, supplying 180 megawatts, while nine will be large photo-voltaic installations. However, the plan for the large installations, which was approved by the Authority two weeks ago, was frozen at the direction of the ministerial committee for renewable energy, after it accepted the Ministry of Finance’s proposal for a renewed discussion in the government of the future of policy for encouraging use of renewable energy.