The Public Utilities Authority plenum approved the conditional license for Arava Power to produce electricity, and sent it to Minister of National Infrastructures Benjamin Ben-Eliezer.
"This is an historic day for renewable energy in Israel," Arava Power Company president Yosef Abramowitz said in a statement. "For the first time, a large solar project is being launched that will be connected to the national grid, with many more megawatts on the way in the coming years. The Public Utility Authority is making a reality Ben-Eliezer's dramatic decision to produce thousands of megawatts of electricity from renewable sources by 2020."
The first solar installation of 100 kilowatts will be built by Edig Solar, according to the Jerusalem Post. Edig Solar uses solar thermal technology developed at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot. The plant is expected to become operational in March.
Arava Power has signed cooperation agreements with 15 kibbutzim, including Ketura and Yotvata, that own land available sufficient for the production of up to 500 megawatts of electricity at photovoltaic farms. The company predicts that a total of over 20 kibbutzim will join the venture this year.
Kibbutz Ketura owns 40% of Arava Power, and a group of US investors, led by company president Yossi Abramowitz, own the rest. Arava Power plans on announcing its brand-name institutional investors by February 1st, 2009.