Kibbutz Reim in the western Negev will soon become the first community in Israel – and probably in the world as well – to rely entirely on energy derived from the sun for domestic consumption.
Solar panels will be placed on the roofs of every house in the kibbutz and produce electricity for the community. Any excess energy will be sold to the Israel Electric Company.
Energy generated by solar radiation is considered by environmentalist to be one of the best methods for producing electricity since it is clean and cost-effective in terms of land use. In 2008, after much bureaucratic hassle and delays the government has finally approved the regulations and subsidies necessary to start solar energy production in Israel.
The Sunday company, which markets the technology in Israel, will install solar panels on all 130 rooftops in the kibbutz, including the members' homes, the dining hall and public buildings. It is estimated that during peak hours the system will be capable of manufacturing at least 2.5 megawatts per hour.
Noam Mark, the kibbutz's economic director, said: "We could have taken a large agricultural area and instead of cultivating it place the panels there. But it's not what we wanted. We seek to transform the kibbutz into a greener community in terms of electricity production, and this is why we chose to go this way."
Sunday CEO Kobi Diner stated that Reim would be the first community to have panels situated on each and every roof. The two estimated that the system's installation would begin in about six months and last up to a year.
The project is estimated to cost some NIS 60-100 million ($16-26.5 million), and the investment is expected to pay for itself within 10 years. The project's cost and revenues from electricity will be divided evenly between the kibbutz and the company.