Making Electricity Using Steam and Mirrors in the Negev

Noy Fund leading huge investment in Ashalim solar plant.

The Noy Infrastructure & Energy Investment fund and partners has pledged 250 million shekels ($71 million) to Megalim Solar Power, the company chosen to build a solar thermal energy plant in the Negev.

Noy will put in 100 million shekels, with its partners — a consortium of Israeli banks, brokerages and insurance companies that includes Clal Insurance, Bank Hapoalim, Phoenix Holdings, Menorah Insurance and Meitav Dash — contributing 150 million shekels.

Noy will own 49% of the project; Megalim’s owners, the U.S. solar energy giant Brightsource Energy and French energy and infrastructure company Alstom, will hold the remaining 51%.

The project is estimated to cost $700 million; its owners are expected to put up $140 million. The European Investment Bank and Bank Hapoalim are expected to provide financing.

The 121 MW plant will be located in the small Negev community of Ashalim. The project is based on the build-operate-transfer model: It will revert to state control after 28 years — three years for construction plus 25 years of operation. During that period, the partners are guaranteed a price of 0.79 shekels per kilowatt-hour. Megalim will use Brightsource’s technology, that uses mirrors to concentrates the sun’s energy and to create steam that turns turbines to generate electricity.

The Noy Fund was founded in 2011 to invest in Israeli and foreign energy and infrastructure companies. It is headed by Pini Cohen, former CEO of Africa Israel Investments, and has 850.5 million shekels under management.

Sivan Faraj