EDF Renewables wins tender to build solar plant, sets new low in prices
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EDF Renewables wins tender to build solar plant, sets new low in prices

With bid to charge just 3 cents per kilowatt hour, the Israeli arm of the French company wins tender for fourth field at Ashalim in the Negev

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

A truck cleaning the dust off the thermo-solar mirrors of the Negev Energy Ashalim plant, August 29, 2019.  (Avshalom Sasoni)
A truck cleaning the dust off the thermo-solar mirrors of the Negev Energy Ashalim plant, August 29, 2019. (Avshalom Sasoni)

The Israeli arm of the French company EDF Renewables has set a record low price for the production of solar energy, winning the tender to build a fourth solar energy field at Ashalim in the Negev desert.

The field of photovoltaic panels, set to start operations in 2021, will supply electricity at 8.68 agorot (3 cents) per kilowatt hour (1 kilowatt of power sustained for one hour). This compares with a price of 40 agorot (12 cents) per kWh at Ashalim’s first solar plant, which started producing energy in late 2017, the business daily Calcalist reported Thursday.

To secure the new deal, the state reduced various risk factors, for example, clearing planning hurdles in advance, ensuring that local kibbutzim did not demand money for land use and even paying around NIS 30 ($8.65) million to build a substation that will help to ensure continuity of operation in case of malfunction.

The plant will cost around NIS 150 ($43) million to build and the deal fixes the price for 25 years.

Ashalim already has two thermo-solar power fields producing 120 MW per year each and one photovoltaic one that generates 30 MW yearly. Thermo-solar plants take sunlight and transform it into heat before using it for electricity. The photovoltaic (PV) system — the preferred one these days — captures the sun’s rays and converts it into electricity straight away.

The government has set itself the goal of generating ten percent of Israel’s electricity from renewable, i.e. solar, energy by 2020 and 17% by 2030.

In the run-up to the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow next year, both the Environmental Protection Ministry and the Energy Ministry are looking at ways to increase the commitment beyond 17%.

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