Analysis: Israel's plans to tap into wind power take shape

ISRAEL: Following years with its capacity stalled at 6MW, wind power in Israel looks set to grow rapidly, with 22MW under construction and a potential 3GW under development.

Israel's sole project, a 6MW development on the Golan Heights using Floda 600 turbines

According to Gadi Hareli, CEO of the Israeli Wind Energy Association, this is a result of measures taken over the last four years. To help reach its renewables target of 10% power generation by 2020, equating to around 1GW of wind, the government introduced a feed-in tariff (FIT) in 2011 up to a limit of 800MW for turbines over 50kW.

It then issued two calls for proposals in 2013, which attracted over 30 projects totalling 2.5GW of wind energy, and last summer published its national master plan with what Hareli called "clear regulations and requirements".

Not that it is all plain sailing. The government last year reduced the allocation to 730MW, after several attempts at deeper cuts, arguing that progress was too slow. The FIT is also likely to be cut this year, probably to somewhere around NIS 0.43/kWh (€0.096/kWh) Hareli believes. In 2014 it stood at NIS 0.54/kWh (€0.12/kWh) for the first 400MW, then NIS 0.49/kWh (€0.109/kWh) for the next 400MW.

Meanwhile, Afcon EB Wind Energy is building two wind farms at Sirin (9.35MW) and Gilboa (11.9MW) equipped with Gamesa 850kW turbines. Commissioning is slated for early 2016. Afcon has another 10MW at Sirin in the permitting process.

The government recently granted conditional production licences for four projects totalling 461MW. The most advanced is a 102MW project at Emek Habacha, owned by Afcon and Kinetic Energies-Alternative Electrical Energies. They hope to get the final approvals and reach financial close by the end of the year.

Enlight Renewable Energy, which has a stake in Kinetic Energies, is also the majority owner of two other projects: Emek Haruchot (169MW) and Ruach Bereshit (130MW). The remaining 60MW granted a conditional licence is located in Lower Galilee.

The long-awaited repowering of Green Wind Energy's 6MW plant in the Golan Heights has been delayed yet again. Green Wind Energy CEO Zahal Harel said the company is waiting for the new FIT to be announced, but hopes to install the six Goldwind turbines by the end of the year. He also hopes to get the go-ahead for two projects totalling 205MW this year.

Hareli believes people will have more confidence once the first two to three wind projects are up and running. He also hopes that the World Wind Energy Conference, taking place in Jerusalem in October, will have a positive impact on the sector.