At full capacity, the gigantic solar power plant will provide enough electricity to power 130,000 homes. The project, located in the Negev desert, is divided into three phases, with a fourth planned for the future. Each phase will have a different solar technology. The complex will be Israel’s largest renewable energy project, with a peak power of 310 MW.
With an economy traditionally tied to fossil fuels, Israel is one of the countries with the smallest percentage of renewables in its energy mix, 2.5%. To change the trend and meet its international commitments, Israel has set a target of 10% renewable energy by 2020, to which Ashalim solar thermal power plant.
Work began in 2016 and is expected to be completed, according to the roadmap, in 2018. When completed, it will include the world’s largest solar tower. One of the four phases is devoted to solar thermal energy concentration. This solar power plant will use 50,000 heliostats to focus a large area of sunlight on a small area of the top of the 250-meter tower. The concentrated energy is transformed into heat, which is used to drive a steam turbine that powers an electrical energy generator.
The factory covers an area of around 300 hectares – nearly 400 football fields – and has an estimated cost of 500 million euros. The investment was made by General Electric, the French Alstom, in addition to an Israeli private investment fund. The Israeli government has promised to purchase electricity for up to 25 years after commissioning.
The size of the mirrors is three times the size of the previous generation, everything is connected via Wi-Fi instead of cables. In addition, the tower and the boiler are specially designed to reduce costs. Everything has been designed for maximum profitability.
The other phases of the project are an energy storage facility and traditional photovoltaic systems that directly convert sunlight into electricity.