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Making sense of renewable energy in Israel


By: Daniel Gold
December 2009


While Israel is a world leader in solar water heater implementation, as well as in developing new technologies that are commercialized worldwide, Israel is still quite a long way behind countries such as Germany, Spain and the US etc, in terms of implementation of photovoltaic technology.

To change that, during the last 18 months the Israeli government has introduced various incentives to help promote the renewable energy industry. These mean that you can now sell electricity produced at you home or business, by wind turbines, or solar panels, to the Israel Electric Company, for a fixed rate 20 year contract making these products a very attractive investment..

The point of this article is to help you understand these incentives, and to help you maximize your benefit from using renewable energy in Israel.
solar_panels
Israel is an excellent place for solar energy, and parts of Israel have very good wind also. My background is in the UK, where there is about half of the sunlight compared to Israel, and it is still viable install solar systems there. Germany is one of the world leaders in solar energy, and we have around 60% more sunlight by comparison. If there is one thing for sure, solar energy works in Israel. Wind power also works well in many parts of Israel, but you will need to assess your property first. To help choose whether to install a wind or a solar system you should first read our wind or solar post. A local installer, such as Israsol can then advise you further, supply you with the kit needed to assess your premises, and install a system..

The benefits of renewable energy are clear - you will be helping to protect the environment by producing clean energy at the same time as saving money. The systems have come down in price by a long way in recent years. During the last two years, the market price for solar panels has nearly halved. When that is combined with government incentives, it makes renewable energy very affordable. The longevity of solar systems is exemplary. They can be expected to last for decades without significant maintenance. Wind systems require regular servicing, but can also last for decades. Not only will your system pay for itself within 5 to 8 years on average, it will continue to save you money long into the future..



The capacity of energy systems (wind, solar, coal, nuclear, etc..) is measures in watts, which is essentially telling you the rate of power production. You can understand this number by looking the wattage rating of everyday household appliances. For example, a standard light bulb uses 60watts of electricity continuously to keep it running. An energy efficient bulb uses around 20watts..

The energy produced is measured in kilowatt-hours. A 100 watt light bulb running for 10 hours uses 1000 watt-hours, or 1 kilowatt hour. These are the 'parcels' which you buy and sell electricity in - so you want your system to produce as many kilowatt hours as possible over the course of a year..
wind_turbine
To run ten 100 watt light bulbs at the same time, you will need a 1000 watt system, in other words a 1kW system.

Neither solar energy, nor wind energy systems will produce energy continuously. Therefore, the way around this problem is to connect the system to the electricity grid, so that when there is not enough energy being produced, you draw what you need from the electric company, when a surplus is produced, it gets sent to the electric company. Modern systems are installed with an extra meter so that the electric company can count your incoming and outgoing electricity, and pay you for everything you produce..

Because these systems do not produce electricity continuously, your aim should not be a system that produces as much as you require at some times, because there will often be a mismatch between what you require and what is being produced. Instead, you should choose a system that produces at least enough revenue from selling the electricity to the Israel Electric Company, to cover your electricity bill..

The amount you will need to invest is approximately 100,000 NIS for 4kW a residential system and up to 800-900,000 NIS for a 50kW commercial system. The prices depend on the technology used, the quality of the equipment and the installation. As with anything, it is worth paying a bit more for better quality as these systems will be installed potentially for decades..
Now is the perfect time to be looking into buying one of these systems, while the government is providing generous incentives - and these won't last for long!



About the Author:
Daniel Gold is the founder and CEO of Israsol (Israel), a Jerusalem based company that installs solar photovoltaic and wind power systems throughout Israel. Israsol is available for consultation on 0774550290, or visit them at www.israsol.co.il.



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