Israel: New 1GW PV tender on the horizon

Israel’s PV development has been somewhat of a roller coaster. The country initially announced feed-in tariffs for PV systems, then reduced them, then used a formula to change its calculation method, which departed even further from the initial tariffs that had been announced.

Furthermore, a land tender scheme is in place, during which developers bid for the land, but are then awarded a feed-in tariff separately. And it has a net metering scheme too. All in all, it can get overly complicated overly quickly.

In total, Israel has installed about 870 MW of solar PV to date. Of this, about 80 MW are under net metering schemes, 15 MW are installed via the land tender scheme and the rest are installations that were developed under the old feed-in tariff.

Eitan Parnass, founder and director of Israel’s Green Energy Association, told pv magazine that according to his calculations, Israel has installed about 100 MW of new PV systems via net metering schemes and a few other systems via the old feed-in tariff scheme, so far in 2016.

To add to the confusion, a recent Reuters article pointed to a 500 MW PV plant – or cluster of plants – that was being planned within the country.

Policy U-turn?

pv magazine understands that Israel’s renewable energy policy is currently undertaking a U-turn. This was initiated after the general elections in March 2015 and has been compounded by the reduction in the costs of renewable energy technology, especially solar PV.

At first, it appeared that solar was destined to be one of the big losers following the election. Leading figures within the treasury, who were obstructing the development of solar PV in Israel due to financial reasons, were transferred to the ministry of national infrastructures, energy and water resources. Now, ironically, the same people that were initially putting the brakes on the industry before, are now engaged within it.

Parnass concurs with this analysis. He adds though that the Paris Summit also gave a helping hand. Israel, Parnass says, has agreed on the following new renewable energy targets: 10% by 2020, 13% by 2025 and at least 17% by 2030.

The ministry of finance, which has a profound influence on the energy regulator, is widely understood to be discouraging subsidies, Parnass told pv magazine. But at the same time, the ministry has taken into account the falling price of PV technology, which makes it the best way to fulfil the country’s news targets.

Up to 7 GW of solar PV by 2030

pv magazine understands that a hearing will take place at the country’s energy regulator in the following days concerning a tender for 1 GW of new solar PV capacity. This hearing will give us a better understanding whether Israel’s anticipated PV renaissance will actually come to fruition.

While some within the energy ministry are drawn to the idea that a huge 500 MW PV plant is being planned, this appears to be years away from realization. What is significantly more relevant, in the here and now, is the upcoming hearing for a 1 GW tender for new PV plants within the country.

Parnass confirmed the hearing and appears positive that the PV tide in Israel is about to shift. “Our potential is mostly solar so it means 5 GW to 7 GW of installations by 2030,” he says.