As the security situation between Israel and Gaza escalates, the National Infrastructures Committee has toured the border area to promote plans for a national solar farm project. The project will be on "lost" land near the border, which is targeted by incendiary balloons and leaves farmers lethally vulnerable to the conflict and is only occasionally used for marginal crops such as wheat and potatoes.
The estimated cost of the project, at a total investment, including storage, is expected to be about NIS 4 billion. The solar farm will extend over 14,000-17,000 dunams (3,500-4,250 acres) up to a distance of about 500 meters from the Gaza border fence. The electricity production potential is estimated at about two gigawatts (about 2,000 megawatts), which constitutes about 15% of Israel's electricity production capacity. This is a national flagship program that is expected to be implemented in the near future along the Gaza border and later, to be copied along Israel's other borders.
The reason why it is so appropriate to implement the project in the current location is first and foremost due to scarce land resources, which make it difficult to deploy solar panels throughout the country. Another reason why the initiator of the project, Eshkol Regional Council Mayor Gadi Yarkoni, supports it and is strongly promoting it because the solar panels that will be deployed near the border will shelter farmers and help protect them from gunfire from the Gaza Strip. The project also receives support from the IDF, which sees it as a potential for creating peace on the basis of future economic cooperation between the Gaza Strip and Israel.
"Determined to promote the regulation to allow broad use of green energy"
The state has a deep commitment to the project both through the National Infrastructure Commission and the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, which finances the planning. Ministry officials participated in the tour yesterday with representatives of the regional councils, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Defense, the Nature and Parks Authority, and the Aviv planning company. The national solar project is still in the early stages, but renewable energy companies are already looking to participate in it, as soon as the establishment phase begins.
Yarkoni said, "This is a reality-changing project, which will push Israel forward in the race against the clock to produce electricity from renewable energy, and be a significant economic growth engine for the region and contribute to regional security. After years, we will re-maximize use of the abandoned areas adjacent to the border. Eventually, all of the income from the project will help to continue developing and upgrading the community infrastructure in the surrounding settlements and despite the security challenges, we will build exemplary settlements."
Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council Mayor Ofir Libstein added, "The potential of the area surrounding Gaza for green energy and advanced agriculture is enormous. It is important that we know how to utilize it in an optimal way. We are committed to the issues of smart agriculture and are determined to advance the regulation to enable the widest possible use of green energy."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on September 27, 2023.
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