Prospects Cloudy for Ramat Hovav Solar Plant

The local council responsible for the Ramat Hovav Industrial Zone says its designation as a site for factories using dangerous chemicals only is thwarting clean energy initiatives that would reduce air pollution and clean up already polluted areas.

Ramat Hovav, the country's main hazardous waste disposal facility, is located in the Negev, 12 kilometers from Be'er Sheva. In addition to housing the National Site for Treatment of Hazardous Waste, it contains 19 chemical factories - over half of Israel's chemical plants.

Israeli regulations make it extremely difficult to designate areas for the development of solar energy.

The Ramat Hovav local council had originally planned to use some 260 dunams formerly used as industrial waste disposal pools for solar energy production. The six pools have been dried up, and the area has rehabilitated and sectored off to control any pollution still emanating from the area.

Currently, the area is slated for "industrial factories at which in the course of production dangerous materials are used, or those liable to cause danger to the environment," putting a hamper on the council's plans

Council members have sought to have regulations made more flexible to allow for alternative energy production.

Regional council engineer Gilad Ateks said examinations are continuing into whether the area is suitable for the construction of a solar energy development facility.