In 2014, the Knesset will become one of the world's first parliaments to generate its own electricity. Sources inform ''Globes'' that, in the past few months, there has been considerable progress in the plan to install photovoltaic panels for the generation of electricity on the Knesset building's roof.
The idea was first mooted several years ago, but made progress only recently following the new arrangements by the Public Utilities Authority (Electricity) to allow electricity producers to consume the power they produce and offset it from their electricity bill.
The initiative to install solar energy systems on the roofs of large and famous public buildings, such as the Teddy football stadium in Jerusalem and the new basketball arena next door, got a push from the new arrangement. "Solar power has become economical in Israel, and we're at the start of a process which will change the urban landscape over the coming years," said Renewable Energy Association of Israel CEO Eitan Parnas.
The Knesset building is a near-perfect structure for a photovoltaic system. The roof is flat, unused, and most importantly, big. One source estimates that a one-megawatt facility could be installed on it, ten times the capacity of a standard household system. The current market cost of such a system is NIS 6 million. The system also has an important security advantage: it can provide a quarter of the Knesset's power consumption when it is in full session, and its entire energy needs when operating on limited or emergency capacity.
The most famous building in the world that will soon boast a solar energy system is the White House. In October 2010, the White House announced that it would install a photovoltaic system on the roof, but President Barack Obama who is known to be no hurry to make a decision, took three years to make the final decision, which he made in August. According to the announcement, 20-50 photovoltaic panels will be installed on the White House roof.
The installation is strongly symbolic of the US solar energy industry. Former President Jimmy Carter installed solar energy panels at the White House, because of high energy prices. His successor, Ronald Reagan, removed them when the price of oil plummeted and the solar energy industry nearly died. But the industry has made a massive comeback in recent years, with one photovoltaic installation every 80 minutes in 2006. The rate has since risen to one installation every four minutes, and is projected to rise to one installation every 80 seconds in 2016, according to a study by GTM Research, which has been widely cited by the US media.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on September 2, 2013
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