Arava Power Company (APC) has reached financial close on eight photovoltaic plants in Israel worth 58.5 megawatts (MW).
The Israeli solar company said the transaction represents the largest of its kind to date in the country. The first deal, worth NIS 460 million (around €94.4 million; US$120.5 million) was closed with Noy Fund and financers Migdal Insurance Company, Bank Hapoalim and Amitim for five photovoltaic projects totaling 35 MW. Construction on the projects, to be located in the Negev Desert, is expected to begin "within a few months". Siemens Israel has been named as EPC contractor.
Overall, APC said total investment for the five projects will reach NIS 500 million. It added that Keren Kayemeth LeYisrael (KKL-JNF), which has an ownership stake in the company, will also come on board as an investor. The financial close was made possible, it continued, after a provisional license from the Public Utilities Authority was granted and a power purchase agreement with the Israel Electric Company signed.
In a second deal, APC partnered with EDF Israel, the renewable energy branch of France-based EDF, to reach financial close on three photovoltaic projects worth 23 MW. The plants are expected to be installed in the Kibbutz communities of Kerem Shalom, Mishmar HaNegev, and Bror Hail.
A total of NIS 280 million will be invested in the projects, of which Bank Hapoalim will reportedly provide 80 percent. As with the first five projects mentioned, they have received provisional licenses from the Public Utilities Authority and Power Purchase Agreements from the Israel Electric Company.
Overall, APC said it intends to invest $1.5 billion in installing 40 photovoltaic projects in Israel worth 400 MW. "Our work is not yet done," stated Yosef Abramowitz, co-founder and president.
"Israel needs to adopt the European Union goal of 20 percent renewables by 2020 and this major milestone by Arava Power is proof positive that it can be reached. Furthermore, an injustice must be corrected by creating a special quota of solar fields for Bedouin land owners, who are locked out of the current solar program."
In March, the company was given the go ahead by the country’s Public Utility Authority (PUA) to install a $150 million, 40 MW photovoltaic plant at Kibbutz Ketura. Construction on the plant – expected to be the largest of its kind in the country when complete – is scheduled to begin in the last quarter of this year and should last for around 1.5 years, according to APC. It will be built across an area of 148 acres. Meanwhile, last June, the company unveiled Israel's first solar field.
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