Shikun u'Binui Holdings Ltd. (TASE: SKBN) controlling shareholder Naty Saidoff has inaugurated the Ashalim solar energy project in the Negev. He announced the start of commercial opewrations in a ceremony together with Minister of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz.
The plant has begun to produce electricity and is now supplying renewable energy to Israel's electricity grid that meets the consumption needs of an estimated 70,000 households. The plant has been a significant contributor to the implementation of government policies as well as to the goals in connection with generating electricity from renewable energy.
Negev Energy, a joint venture of Shikun & Binui Energy (50%), the Noy Infrastructure Fund (40%) and the Spanish firm TSK (10%), won the tender that had been issued by the Accountant General at the Ministry of Finance and entered into a design franchise agreement in 2013, for the planning, design, financing, construction, operation and maintenance of a 121 MW thermo-solar plant for a period of 25 years.
The 988-acre plant (the size of Petah Tikva) is composed of some 16,000 parabolic troughs and about half a million concave mirrors, which converts solar energy into steam that is then used to generate electricity. The Negev Energy Power Station has a unique system for storing thermal energy, based on molten salt, which allows the plant to operate for an extra 4.5 hours daily at full power following sunset, maximizing the plant's efficacy and efficiency. The investment in the construction of the plant is estimated to be about NIS 4 billion. Hundreds of workers, sub-constructors and suppliers, most of them residents of south Israel and the Negev region, took part in the construction of the plant.
Steinitz said, "Since I assumed office, I have used every possible means to increase the scope of renewable energy production, and by doing so, I expect to meet the government goal of 10% by the end of 2020. I believe that alongside natural gas, renewable energy is of paramount importance in reducing air pollution for the benefit of the health of all of us, and this policy is reflected in the "Plan 2030" that we are leading in order to stop the dependence of Israel on polluting fuels. The breakthrough in this field enables us, in addition to stopping the use of coal, to significantly promote the renewability goal for 2030.
Saidoff said, The Ashalim thermal-solar plant is one of the flagship projects of Shikun & Binui, enabling the generation of renewable energy, and, by doing so, meeting the needs in terms of sustainability and environmental protection, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, is, in and of itself, a profitable project, which has created jobs for many members of the Negev communities. I am proud to be given the opportunity to build meaningful mega-projects in Israel and abroad, and plan to promote similar projects in the future."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on September 3, 2019
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