Golan Heights wind farm project underway

The $400 million venture has been declared a "national project."

A huge wind farm will be constructed in the northern Golan Heights. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed a decree this week declaring the plan by public company Multimatrix (TLV:MLTX) to establish the wind farm a national project.

The farm will be established on the area between Massadeh and Majdal Shams. It will comprise 70 giant turbines, at a total investment of approximately $400 million. US energy giant AES Corp. is a partner in the venture. AES raised the necessary funds to promote the project, and will receive half the profits .The turbines to be set up built on the northern Golan Heights will be capable of an output of 155 megawatts. According to the controlling shareholder and CEO of Multimatrix, Uri Omid, annual sales of power to Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) will be approximately $70 million.

Construction of the farm will begin within six months. Meanwhile, Multimatrix and AES will try to obtain approval from the army to set up more huge turbines that will be capable of expanding the output the farm to about 200 megawatts. Construction of the farm will be relatively short: every three days one turbine will be installed, so that it should begin operating no later than the second half of 2012.The company's controlling shareholders are conducting intensive negotiations with General Electric and with a South Korean company on the procurement of the turbines.

"This is the first very large and practical renewable energy project of its kind in Israel, and in the entire Middle East. Both the finance minister and the minister of the environment supported the move, and for good reason: they were impressed that one of the solutions to the expected energy shortage in Israel in the coming years is within reach, and not in the depths of the Mediterranean, without the need for special installations to transport gas, without capital market speculation, and without pollution of any kind," Omid told "Globes".

Fair pricing

Multimatrix now hopes for what they call "fair pricing" in the tariff for selling power produced by wind energy to IEC. They point to the astronomical difference between the price offered per kilowatt hour for electricity provided by solar energy and power produced by wind turbines. While the price paid for electricity from solar energy ranges from NIS 1.70 to NIS 2, the price offered for the same amount of power to be produced by wind turbines is approximately NIS 0.40. "It's hard to understand this gap, because in the end the electricity is the same electricity, and both these systems are environmentally friendly. The matter is now being rethought, because only with fair pricing will it be possible to promote things that are truly new and efficient here," a source in the renewable energy field said today.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on September 21, 2010

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2010

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