Israel issues 1.6 GW scheme for rooftop solar

The Israeli government has officially launched the new incentive scheme for rooftop solar PV, which it submitted for public consultation last December.

The scheme, which is expected to enable the deployment of around 1.6 GW of rooftop PV capacity over the next three years, aims to help the country reach its 2020 renewable energy target: 10% coverage of total energy consumption, based on 3.5 GW of installed PV power.

It has also simplified the processes for the grid-connection of future projects, improved financing conditions, and regulates the installation of solar power generators on the roofs of household, commercial and industrial facilities, public buildings, parking lots, pergolas, water reservoirs and fish ponds.

Under the new scheme, PV projects not exceeding 15 kW in size will be eligible to access net metering, or apply for a 25-year FIT (not indexed to inflation) of 0.48 ILS ($0.137)/kWh.

Furthermore, the scheme will support PV systems ranging in size from 15 kW to 100 kW, with a 25-year FIT of 0.45 ILS ($0.129)/kWh (not indexed to inflation). For these two installation types, the Israeli government has established an initial quota of 300 MW.  The approved tariffs, however, will only apply to the first 100 MW.

The new regulation also keeps in place a generous net metering scheme for installations up to 5 MW, although it will now be limited to rooftop and water reservoir installations. A new backup fee covering a storage charge of 0.03 ILS ($0.008)/kWh was also imposed, but local industry sources report that this scheme is still very appealing to consumers.

Under the net-metering scheme, all excess power will be bought by Israel’s power utility, Israel Electric Corporation (IEC).

Moreover, the scheme entails a series of tenders, the first of which will be launched this summer. The minimum capacity to be allocated in a single tender will be 50 MW. A participant can either sell all electricity to the grid at the winning tariff, or sell the electricity to other consumers who are connected to same solar rooftop.

This is a major change of the Israeli Electricity Market Regulatory Authority (PUA) rules, as in Israel the bilateral sale of renewable electricity was not allowed prior to the introduction of these new provisions.

A new basket regulation for consumers who do not choose any of the aforementioned options, was also added, allowing for the production of solar and providing a payment of 0.16 ILS ($0.04) for any excess kwh generated (to be amended from time to time).

The new provisions will come into force after their publication in the Israeli official journal. The date has thus far not been disclosed.

“The government of Israel had delayed solar implementation for many years, waiting for it to be economically feasible,” Eitan Parnass, founder and director of Israel’s Green Energy Association told pv magazine.

“Israel is an energy Island with 330 sunny days but with cheap natural gas, renewables implementation was not a real issue in previous years. Now for the first time, we see a shift in policy and the conservative economic regulators vote for solar, which became cheaper than fossils.”

He continued, “It looks like Israel’s solar PV market is back on tracks. This explains the ‘jump start’ tariffs and planned rooftop auctions, driven by Government’s commitment to reach 10% in 2020 goal.”

Israel currently has an installed solar power of around 1 GW. Another 1 GW is planned to come from a series of six tenders totaling 1 GW of land installations, which was issued this year and will run through 2018.