JERUSALEM, March 13 (Reuters) - Israel’s Arava Power said on Tuesday it had received a provisional licence to build a large solar field in the Negev desert that will supply power to the Red Sea resort city of Eilat.
Arava said the field, with an investment of $150 million, should be completed in 2014 and have a capacity of 40 megawatts - one third of the electricity consumption of Eilat during daylight hours.
The photovoltaic solar installation will be built at Kibbutz Ketura, 50 km north of Eilat.
Arava said Eilat, as a major Israeli tourist city, has higher energy consumption in relation to its population compared with other urban areas.
“The supply of electricity generated by Arava Power’s large field will help reduce the city’s reliance on expensive diesel generators,” it said in a statement.
Last year, Arava, 40 percent owned by Siemens, unveiled a $30 million, 4.95 megawatt plant at Ketura in what it said would be the first of 50 power fields, with a capacity of 400 megawatts, that Arava plans to build in the desert by the end of 2014.
Israel has set a goal of having 10 percent of the energy it consumes coming from renewable sources by 2020. There is still some disagreement within the government on how best to proceed, which could delay Arava’s plan.
“Over the next three summers and beyond, Israel is facing a severe energy crisis that is expected to cause continuous power outages,” said Yosef Abramowitz, co-founder and president of Arava Power.
“Increasing the price of energy and producing electricity from diesel and heavy fuels is a terrible solution for the Israeli public, especially since the government has a chance to develop clean, green energy. I hope this golden opportunity is not missed,” he said.
Arava said it had received a licence to built the plant from the Public Utility Authority on Monday. (Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Anthony Barker)