Israel’s 787-foot concentrated solar power tower will bring up to 121 megawatts of renewable power to the country. Megalim Solar Power is the company
Megalim Solar Power—a joint venture between Oakland, California’s Brightsource and French engineering firm Alstom—is the company behind the $773 million project along with shareholders such as General Electric.
Israel’s new solar tower will stand at the center of a 3.15 square kilometer field covered by more than 50,000 sun-tracking heliostats (mirrors) Brightsource said in a press release. The cumulative surface area of the complex covers more than 1 million square meters.
The mirrors track the sun while concentrating sunlight onto a boiler atop the tower which will produce high temperatures at high pressures to feed a steam turbine to generate electricity.
The electricity generated at the facility will be enough to supply 120,000 homes with clean energy and will avoid 110,000 tons of CO2 emissions each year over the course of its life, Brightsource said on its website.
The tower will supply 1 percent of Israel’s electricity under an agreement with the Israeli government, Reuters reported.
Although 1 percent might sound like a small slice of Israel’s energy mix, the tower is part of the country’s goal to meet 10 percent of its energy needs from renewable energy sources by 2020. The government has called for the building of renewable energy sources in the Negev and Arava regions of at least 250 megawatts each year.
In 2014, Israel’s primary energy consumption came mainly from petroleum and other liquids (42 percent), coal (29 percent) and natural gas (28 percent), according to BP Statistical Review of World Energy.
However, with its ample sunshine, Israel has “excellent” potential to tap into solar as a renewable energy source, Israel’s Ministry of Energy and Water Resources said on its website.
“Many countries are investing in the development and construction of power stations that run on clean energy, due to considerations such as environmental protection, a steep rise in fossil fuel prices and dependence on the suppliers of those fuels, some of which are located in hostile or unstable countries,” the agency continued. “At the heart of these trends lies the realization that reserves of exhaustible energy sources will not last forever, and that we must therefore prepare by diversifying energy sources now.”
The European Investment Bank (EIB), which contributed a loan agreement for 150 million Euros (about $167 million dollars) to the project, said the tower is an “important step towards the fulfilment of the objectives of the [European Union] as well as Israel’s national priority objectives relating to combating climate change and supporting renewable energy, as it will emit significantly less greenhouse gases and other pollutants than conventional thermal power plants.”
While Megalim’s tower is privately funded now, when operations commence by late 2017, the Israeli government has already committed to buying the power it generates at an above-market price, Reuters reported.