After 5.5 years of bureaucracy, Arava Power CEO Jon Cohen is inaugurating the first Israeli solar field at Kibbutz Ketura today. "Extremely proud, but a little worn out," is how he described his feelings just before the festive dedication of the first solar field in Israel, called Ketura Sun, which is located in the fields of Kibbutz Ketura, in the Arava. It has taken Arava Power and the investors that financed the project more than five years to reach this moment. Hundreds of guests will arrive from the center of Israel on buses to see them cut the ribbon, and to experience first hand how endless discussions about solar energy became reality.
The trip from Tel Aviv to Ketura is miniscule compared to the long journey that the entrepreneurs took until they were able to proclaim success. "We started planning the field at the end of 2006, we are now in the middle of 2011 and that says it all. In other western countries, solar fields of this scope are built in a much shorter time span. In Germany, it takes six months," said Cohen in a special interview with "Globes."
"But this is okay. This is the price you pay for a project that is the first of its kind. This is the price pioneers pay. For our second and third projects even two or three years will not be acceptable. If we succeeded in creating a new reality that will pave the way for others, that is enough," said Cohen.
The first Israeli solar field is spread over 80 dunam (about 20 acres) of land and consists of 18,500 photovoltaic panels, which were produced by Chinese Suntech Power. All the panels are expected to produce about 9 million kilowatts per year, which would provide electricity for a year for three average size kibbutzim in the Arava.
Arava Power's solar power will be transferred to the national grid and the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) (TASE: ELEC.B22) will pay NIS 1.5 for one kilowatt hour, a nice profit for electricity created by sun beams coming in contact with solar panels that were imported from China, and whose price is steadily going down.
About NIS 100 million was invested in the Ketura Sun project by: Bank Hapoalim TASE: POLI); GSP (Global Sun Partners) located in the Virgin Islands; and by members of Kibbutz Ketura and other US investors, including Siemens, and the Jewish National Fund.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 5, 2011
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