One of the projects in the Negev desert includes over 50,000 mirrors
Southern Israel blooms with fields harnessing solar energy
Israel has so far invested over $850 million in renewable energy projects • Newest thermo-solar power station in Ashalim is one of the biggest projects of its kind in the world and Israel’s first commercial facility based on solar tower technology.
Israel has so far invested upward of 3 billion shekels ($850 million) in new solar energy projects in the Negev desert. One major project is nearing completion in Ashalim, a small community south of Beersheba, and a second project is in the works near Kibbutz Sde Boker.
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 biggest projects of its kind in the world, and it 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 20 square meters (215 feet) each, covering an area stretching over 3 square kilometers (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 250-meter (656-feet) tall tower that generates high-temperature, high-pressure steam. The steam is pumped into a generator turbine that produces electricity.
The 2,500 tons, 40-meter (130-feet) tall 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 a 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% renewable energy in Israel by 2020,” Ramat Hanegev Regional Council head Eran Doron, who headed the efforts to establish a solar power station in the area, told Israel Hayom Wednesday.
“The Ashalim solar energy complex includes two thermo-solar projects and a photovoltaic project, which together will produce nearly 300 megawatts of electricity a day, and in the future produce 2% of Israel’s electricity — about one-fifth of the national target. “I think [Israel’s first Prime Minister David] Ben-Gurion may be turning in his grave — but with joy,” he said.