Israel prepares 800 MW of pumped hydro storage


The Israeli government has allocated 800 MW of pumped hydro storage, according to the full-year figures for 2019 published by NYSE-listed Israeli renewables company Ellomay Capital.

The Tel Aviv-based developer is targeting a 156 MW slice of that quota through its Manara Cliff project, although the scale of the planned dual-reservoir facility has been reduced from 340 MW, under its latest conditional licence terms, because rival projects have eaten into the capacity available.

Ellomay, which said its 300 MW Talasol solar field in Extremadura, Spain is 60% constructed and expected to be operational this year, admitted plans are already more advanced on a 300 MW pumped hydro facility in the Gilboa region, which is entering its final construction phase; and at the 344 MW Kochav Hayarden scheme, which is now under construction. The latter project is a sore point for Ellomay, which filed two unsuccessful legal cases objecting to extensions to financial closure and construction deadlines afforded the rival facility by the Israeli Electric Authority (IEA) and the appropriate minister.

Stake sale

The terms of the new conditional licence granted Ellomay for the smaller project give the company until the end of the year to reach financial closure, at which point Ellomay has stated it would sell 35% of the 75% holding it has in project company Ellomay Pumped Storage – via subsidiary Ellomay Water Plants Holdings Ltd – to an unnamed investor. The Manara project would supply energy to the IEA under a power supply deal.

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The renewables business admitted it could lose further potential capacity at Manara if any rival project reached financial close before it does but stated, in a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, it understands a planned 156 MW pumped hydro facility at Nesher no longer holds a conditional licence.

The Manara project also hinges on Ellomay negotiating an agreeable fee to sub-let the project site from national entity the Israel Land Authority (ILA). The renewables business has balked at the NIS160 million ($46.7 million) demanded by the ILA and said it was excessive, including the calculated value of NIS1 million for each megawatt of installed capacity.

Ellomay’s annual report also mentioned details of plans to install a 28 MW solar project near the Talasol site and details of two framework agreements – for 250 MW and 365 MW – it has signed to develop new-build solar generation capacity in Italy.

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