Markets & Trends
PV systems in Israel are mostly small-scale installations. Arava Power Company is taking on Israel’s larger solar PV
projects. Pictured here: the inauguration of Ketura Sun, located at Kibbutz Ketura in the Arava Valley.
At this year’s CleanTech summit and exhibition, organized by Mashov Group
in Tel Aviv, Israel’s PV industry looked forward to when PV electricity production will
become competitive without subsidy.
When the Israeli government introduced velopers, suppliers and other PV industry nantly used for farming, or for defense, so
a feed-in tariff (FIT) in the summer of players that were present at CleanTech in unlike Europe and the U.S., multi-mega-
2008 to incentivize the small and mid- Tel Aviv in July are singularly determined watt solar fields that blanket hundreds of
sized/commercial PV market, predict- to create successful solar businesses in Is- acres of land are not feasible in Israel.
ably it started a solar rush as installers, rael, with or without government subsidy.
In order for Israel to meet its mid-term
suppliers and other players descended to In a country where more than 20 differ- goal of five percent renewable energy con-
carve out a slice of the market. As a re- ent public offices are involved in regulat- sumption by 2014, the REAI published a
sult of the FIT, grid-connected PV in- ing and permitting solar energy, licenses report to coincide with CleanTech, stat-
stallations grew from 25 kWp in 2007 to for projects remain very oversubscribed, ing 900 MW more solar capacity needs to
186,000 kWp in 2011 and Israel quickly says Lior Handelsman, founder of Is- be installed. The report was sent to gov-
emerged as one of the first sun-belt mar- rael-headquartered inverter supplier So- ernment ministries and authorities, ask-
kets in the region. But in managing to larEdge Technologies. According to the ing for new energy regulations and legis-
avoid the boom-and-bust travails of Renewable Energy Association of Israel lation to help reach the target.
PV markets such as Spain and Italy – (REAI), out of 977 MW of solar PV-ap-
through introducing measures to ratio- proved quotas and tenders, only 225 MW Grid parity is near
nalize growth – the opposite effect has has been installed and connected to the Suntech Power is the largest supplier of
left an industry frustrated by excessive grid. Most of this comprises small-scale PV panels to Israel, through partnerships
red tape, from quotas, market capping commercial installations, followed by with local companies like RCS Solar.
and licenses. “Israel has been a very up- small-scale residential.
Strategically Israel is important for Sun-
The quota for larger commercial and tech both as an end-user market for its
Feller, President of RCS Solar, a leading utility-scale is largely unmet. Backed by panels and also as a rich vein of PV-re-
global distributor with a 40 percent share funds from its investor and partner Sie- lated R&D to be tapped. During Clean-
mens, Arava Power Company is taking Tech 2012, Suntech’s CTO Stuart Wen-
on Israel’s larger capacity solar PV proj- ham, accompanied by REAI and the
Pent up demand
ects. Recently the company raised fi- Israel Export and International Cooper-
Nevertheless, while they may have been nance for eight solar plants, totaling over ation Institute, met with government of-
fewer in numbers compared with previ- 50 MW, in the Negev Desert in southern ficials and business executives from solar
ous years, the distributors, installers, de- Israel. Beyond Negev, land is predomi- technology companies.
Markets & Trends
With the Israeli Public Utility Author- with Migvan Technologies & Engineer-
ity (PUA), which sets quotas for solar ing, a local representative and distributor
PV, and the Israeli Electric Corporation, of semiconductor and electrical compo-
Suntech discussed PV market dynamics, nents, Power-One should have sold over
particularly as the economics of PV elec- 30 MW worth of inverters by the end of
tricity generation are almost competitive 2012. SMA, which has the largest share of
with conventional electricity. The com- Israel’s inverter market, plans to open a
pany also met with Israel’s national eco- service office in Israel later this year.
nomic council and the chief scientist’s
office to “help them better understand Israel just over two years ago, it was as a The experts at CleanTech 2012 were determined
current trends in PV technology,” con- distributor of PV modules and products, to create successful solar businesses in Israel, with
firms Ryan Ulrich, communications su- but the company’s founders quickly saw or without government subsidy.
During CleanTech 2012 Eitan Par- to develop installations of plants in the
nass, founder and CEO of REAI, spoke one to 10 MW range, through experi- uating flexible and also rigid silicon PV
to pv magazine
about the self-consump- ence in installation planning and other panels, from mainly tier-1 suppliers, but
tion model that is poised to emerge in the areas. The France-headquartered com- also some tier-2 sources. In Israel, Aquate
coming months. As the economics of PV pany is developing a 10 MW project in has several partnerships, including Me-
generation continue to look more favor- Israel with a group of private owners and korot, Israel’s national water company
able in a country that benefits from some another 10 MW project, also with a con- which is developing the Nir Am reservoir
of the highest levels of solar irradiation in glomerate of private investors, in Pales- on an area covering 120,000 m2 and sev-
the world, initiatives that avoid the FIT tine. The latter project, explains Helios eral reservoir projects with Moshavei Ha-
altogether are in the pipeline. In Israel, Strategia CEO Stéphane Aaron Draï, has negev Company, Israel’s largest agricul-
much of the land for farming is owned by come about through the company secur- tural company, covering reservoirs over
communal cooperatives such as kibbut- ing the support of the Israeli, Palestin- a collective area of 600,000 m2. Aquate
zim. Using the space available on roof- ian and French governments. Both plants has been working with different govern-
tops of cow, chicken and other farming will be completed in early 2013. Helios ment ministries and authorities in order
and industrial sheds for PV electricity Strategia has helped open up the Israeli to gain approvals and should it gain these
generation does not compete with land market for Spanish PV module maker Si- in time, construction of projects could
used for crops and other agricultural ac- liken. A stipulation of the Palestine PV begin this year, with plans to develop sev-
tivity. Kibbutzim have the collective in- project is the use of European PV panels. eral hundred megawatts of FCPV in Is-
rael by 2015. “The legwork is in obtaining
ers could trade any excess PV-generated Preserving resources
electricity generated. Such concepts are Haim Alush, co-founder and co-CEO of tion of the FCPV system can take under
risky, admits Parnass, since they are Mashov Group, which has launched sev- six months,” says Yekutiely. Aquate is also
hedging on the likelihood that Israel’s eral initiatives, such as energy efficiency working with partners globally, includ-
electricity prices, which have been his- and recycling in Israel’s cities, says em- ing the U.S., to commercialize its FCPV
torically low, will rise over time. Never- phasizing the connection between the system.
theless, low PV panel prices coupled with different clean technology fields is crit-
abundant sunshine hours mean that such ical, citing solar and water as an exam- ceed in the future is where it is part of
projects may be economically viable from ple. The link is not immediately obvious a system designed to preserve resources
2013 onwards. “It is a free market initia- until Barak Yekutiely, founder of Aquate, that are becoming increasingly scarce.
tive coming from entrepreneurs here in describes his company, which is getting Even the Israeli government has had to
Israel, not the government,” explains Par- ready to commercialize its floating-cover acknowledge that PV is the only technol-
PV (FCPV) system. In Israel, where free ogy to get it out of a tight fix, where in-
Despite the overregulation that has land is scarce, collectively the country’s terruptions to gas from Egypt coinciding
threatened to derail Israel’s PV indus- reservoirs could provide enough surface with peak demand for electricity for air-
try, it is the fast-approaching competi- area to host up to 2 GW of PV capacity. conditioning means its citizens are pre-
tive economics of PV electricity genera- Covering reservoirs prevents water loss pared for summer blackouts. To plug the
tion – so-called grid parity – that many through evaporation and reduces water deficit, 30 MW of PV capacity is being
international PV businesses and sup- salinity and, in turn, more water en- licensed by the government on the con-
pliers are gearing up for with the Israeli hances agricultural productivity. FCPV dition that this capacity can be installed
government expected to publish a grid- systems also take advantage of proxim- by August. Even though Israel has dis-
parity report in mid-2012. David Lowen, ity to grid connections reservoirs have for covered gas fields for exploiting, these
Director of Sales Western EMEA, for pumping water, or they can work as off- are unlikely to begin piping in fuel be-
Power-One, concurs: “From 2013, the Is- grid installations. “By installing FCPV fore 2015. But as solar PV production be-
raeli PV industry is going to become a you are maximizing the existing produc- comes more competitive, Israel is poised
very interesting market indeed.” The in- tivity of the reservoir and also providing to become as proficient at harvesting en-
verter company has recently opened an an additional function – the production ergy as it is at growing crops and farm-
office in Tel Aviv. Through its partnership of electricity,” explains Yekutiely.
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