Israel to Build Thermo-solar Power Plant in Negev Desert

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Heliostat panels surround a solar generation unit at a Solar Thermoelectric Magaldi (STEM) pilot plant, operated by Magaldi Power SpA, in Buccino, Italy, on Monday, May 18, 2015.Credit: Bloomberg

Israel signed a deal to build a 4 billion shekel ($1.05 billion) thermo-solar power plant in the country's south, aimed at boosting electricity production from renewable energy sources, the Finance Ministry said on Sunday.

The 121 megawatt plant, which will also be able to store electricity, will be built by a consortium of Israel's Shikun & Binui and Spain's Abengoa in Ashalim in Israel's southern Negev desert near another solar plant.

The plant, to be built under a build, operate and transfer program, is expected to come online in the first half of 2018, the ministry said.

Both plants - along with a planned photovoltaic power plant nearby - will provide 2 percent of total electricity production in Israel, which has a target of 10 percent coming from renewable sources by 2020.

They will be financed by the European Investment Bank and the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corp.

The ministry said it plans to publish a tender for another plant to help it meet its renewable energy goal.

Thermo-solar plants differ from photovoltaic plants because they do not convert sunlight into electricity. Instead, they focus on the sun's rays to produce heat and drive a conventional generator.

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