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Israel Moves Ahead with Global First on Solar Tower Front

06 Jan 17:00 by Steve Walia

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Israel has long operated with fossil fuels for its primary energy source, and green energy adoption has been hampered by a dearth of incentives and bureaucracy.

However, the country is moving ahead with a strong statement towards its renewable energy ambitions by building the largest solar tower in the world. Israel's government has also committed to a target of producing 10pc of its energy needs from renewable technologies by 2020, which will be a four-fold increase on its current level of 2.5pc.

The tower will be housed in the Negev desert and ultimately see four plots in place, each using a different type of solar technology. Together, the size of the Ashalim project will be the biggest renewable energy development from 2018.

Once operational, it will generate up to 310MW of clean energy, which is sufficient for c. 1.6pc of Israel's total energy needs or around 5pc of its population, according to figures produced by the Israeli Electricity Authority.

The centrepiece of the project will be a 250-metre-high tower which will be covered with 50,000 heliostat mirrors, creating a light-reflective blanket of glass that will shine in the desert. It will use solar thermal technologies, allowing the sun's rays to concentrate on the tower and to heat an integral boiler. This will create steam, which will power a turbine to produce green energy.

The tower's height has been optimised to maximise land use. A second solar-thermal plot will be in place for energy-storage purposes at night. The third will use solar PV panels to generate energy. By combining the three technologies, each can be used to its advantage at different times.

The total amount of produced energy is expected to compare to other ambitious projects in Chile and California.