PV puts other renewables in the shade in Israel

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After two years of pondering whether to solar or not to solar, the Israeli government has finally decided to divert some 520 MW of quotas to solar PV.

Of those, 180 MW of quotas come from concentrated solar power (CSP), 70 MW from large-scale wind, 20 MW from small-scale wind and 60 MW from biogas technologies.

The government has also given the green light for the land tender of a 30 MW solar PV park in Ashalim, southern Israel.

Ashalim will also boast two CSP plants, as previously planned, bringing the total solar capacity in the area to 270 MW, said the ministry of national infrastructures, energy and water.

The areas of Judea and Samaria, in the West Bank region of the Palestinian occupied territories, have also been granted 30 MW of the 520 MW quota diverted to solar PV parks, with the region a thorny issue that delayed the quota shift for two years.

Israel's government has long considered diverting to solar PV quotas initially allocated to other renewables, with the most recent decision taken in February, when an inter-ministerial committee for renewable energy approved the transfer of 290 MW of renewable energy quotas to solar PV.

Moves from wind to solar

Gadi Hareli, CEO of Israel's Wind Energy Association (IsraWEA), told pv magazine in February: “this was the third time the Ministry of Energy attempted to convert part of the 2020 quota from wind to solar.”

Renewable energy industry contacts explained to pv magazine, a decision to divert quotas was rejected by minister of finance Yair Lapid on the grounds PV investments in the West Bank are at risk in the event of a permanent political settlement with the Palestinians.

For this reason, the inter-ministerial committee for Renewable Energy determined in February the state would guarantee the debt owed by developers to financial institutions.

Subsidy scheme yet to be determined

Eitan Parnass, founder and chairman of the Green Energy Association, Israel's main green energy lobbying group promoting solar PV, has welcomed the news saying: “we were waiting for this since 2012.”

Parnass told pv magazine: “There is still debate on the tariff mechanism and whether it will be by tender or not, but most possibly the answer is that the subsidy scheme will be based on competitive tenders where the lowest feed-in tariff tendered will get a license to build the plant.”

Israeli subsidies for solar PV are a complex issue. The country has gone from a feed-in tariff (FIT) model – which itself evolved into a different form – to land tenders, to net metering and recently the government has made clear it wants to use new competitive tenders based on FIT bidding.

Renewables in Israel provide only one per cent of the country's electricity but the solar sector is determined to change that at what seems like the lowest cost possible. Currently, Israel has installed around 500 MW of solar PV and only 5 MW of wind power. Previous experience has shown that whenever the government publishes solar PV quotas, these tend to be filled very quickly with businesses very keen to install solar systems in the country.”

Beside the 520 MW quota of renewable energies diverted to PV, Israel also announced recently the tender for the first phase of the 170 MW Timna Solar Park in Eilat, southern Israel.

The September issue of pv magazine ran an article analysing Israel's complicated subsidy schemes for PV in full detail. The September issue of pv magazine can be purchased here.

PV in Israel will be a topic at the upcoming Forum Solarpraxis in Berlin. Honi Kabalo of the Israeli Public Utilities Authority will attend the conference.

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