Posts Tagged ‘alternative energy’

The Israeli Government and the Solar Industry

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

Hi Everyone!

This week the Israeli government approved a plan to establish a research and development center for renewable energy technologies. The center will be located in the Negev and the government will invest NIS 70 million over a period of five years. This is a good step toward helping Israel increase its share of renewable energy exports. In fact, the Israeli Negev is becoming a magnetic for companies working on solar and renewable energy technologies. Rotem Industries, Luz II, Zenith Solar are based in the Negev and all three are working on technologies to make solar energy less expensive. David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, said: “The future of Israel lies in the Negev”. Well, it looks like the future is here.

This week I read an article in the Jerusalem Report that had experts in the field criticize the incentive program that was introduced in July to buy surplus electricty generated from rooftops using PV (photovoltaic) panels. The people interviewed implied that the government was wasting money on this limited project. I disagree. I think the government should encourage the installation of PV panels as a first step in a solar energy policy. Many countries around the world are giving their citizens incentives to install PV panels. In time, the technology will improve, prices will go down and subsidies will not be needed. It is important to keep the relatively small local manufacturing and installation companies in the game as we wait for the technology to improve. Based upon the current, fast paced technological developments worldwide, I think we will see more compact and efficient PV panels within the next 3-5 years.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, the U.S. Congress has gone on vacation without passing the energy bill. This is not good at all. The tax credits for purchasing solar and wind systems expire at the end of December 2008. Many alternative energy projects will be put on hold or cancelled if the tax credits are not extended. Both the Republicans and Democrats have added so many extra items to the bill, that passing the bill has become problematic. However, a group of 10 senators (five Republicans and five Democrats) are hammering out a bipartisan compromise. Let’s hope that the bill passes and that we do not see a repeat of history like the 1980’s when oil prices fell, the tax credits were not renewed and the solar and wind industries went into hibernation. This important piece of legislation will also affect Israeli companies that are making inroads in the alternative energy field in America. Congress will be back in session in September and I hope to report good news by then.

Until next week…..

Shabbat Shalom,

Israeli Bank Loans for Solar Energy Systems

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

Hi Everyone!

Thanks to all those that wrote to me with comments, suggestions and well-wishes regarding the launch of the new solar energy website. Many of the suggestions included links to additional solar energy companies in Israel and additional resouce links. I added them to the companies and links pages on the website. I plan on adding additional resources to the site as they come in.
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During the past 3 weeks since the new electric feed-in tariffs were announced, interest in purchasing solar energy systems in Israel has increased. However, the cost for a residential system is still expensive (around 75,000 shekels).  Banks are now beginning to offer long term loans for purchasing a solar (photovoltaic) energy system for your home or business.

I contacted Bank Hapoalim this week to get the specifics about the loans available. Here is what they said:

For private individuals the official loan terms are:
up to NIS 110,000
up to 10 years
Interest rate is floating rate at Prime + 2%.
(the prime rate is currently 5.25%)
All terms and security/collateral arrangements need to be finalized with the branch involved.

I assume that many of the other banks will be offering similar loans. If you apply for such a loan and the terms are better, please let me know so I can tell everyone.
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Several people emailed me about a company in Israel that is planning to build affordable solar homes in Israel. The company called Real Housing Ltd. already contstructed  a 70 square meter model home in Ashalim, Ramat Negev. To reduce the need to turn on energy-using equipment these houses will be well insulated. They will be heated and cooled using high-efficiency heat pumps and they will integrate solar pannels (for electricty and hot water) into the roofing system. As the projects develop I will keep everyone posted on the developments.
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Last but not least, if you read the large-scale power plants faq on the site, you  already know that Israeli companies have been in the forefront of developing large scale energy systems using parabolic trough collectors.
As in many advanced technologies that Israel exports, implementing these technologies within Israel has been a struggle both on the economic side and there have been various bureaucratic government obstacles.
After many years of delays, early this year the Israel Ministry of National Infrastructure issued the application for the first tender for developing large scale solar power stations for the production of electricity. The solar power plants will be constructed at Ashelim in the Negev. Many companies around the world have shown an interest in this tender. Let’s hope that the project stays on course and part of our electric needs will be generated by these new plants.
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If anyone has started the process of purchasing a home solar system, please let me know. I am sure everyone would like to know the exact steps and procedures that are actually involved in buying and installing these systems in Israel. Thanks!
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It is time to end this long first posting.
Feedback and suggestions are always welcome.

Until next week…….

Shabbat Shalom,