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    'Solar energy vital for Israel's security'
    Arava Power Company CEO says following Sinai pipeline attacks that sun is Jewish state's safest, most available energy source
    “The sun cannot be sabotaged. It’s the safest and most available energy source in Israel," Arava Power Company CEO Jon Cohen said Monday in response to the attack on Egypt’s natural gas pipeline in the Sinai Peninsula – the third such assault since February – which forced the gas supply to Israel and other countries to shut down.


    "Energy security, energy independence and balancing the appropriate combination of energy sources are of critical economic importance to Israel’s future," he



    Cohen, who last month helped launch the first commercial solar panel field in Israel and this region of the Middle East, added that the decision-makers in Israel’s government, under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, must determine how to proceed with the next regulations.


    "We must harness the great potential within the solar industry. Within two years, an additional 1,000 megawatts of solar energy, beyond the minimalist proposal on the prime minister’s desk, can be supplied to Israel’s national electricity grid.


    "For future regulations, tariffs need to be determined so as to guarantee a benefit to the national economy. The revolutionary and continuous decrease in solar industry costs, the advantages to public health derived by decreasing pollutant emissions, the savings on avoiding burning fuel and operating turbines to supply electricity during peak hours all ensure the benefits of solar power.”


    The future of the solar program was fiercely debated without resolution Sunday and will be voted on at the cabinet meeting next Sunday.


    At the June 5 launch of the Ketura Sun solar field, Arava Power Company revealed a closing on signed contracts to build nearly 50 additional solar fields throughout the country. The company announced that these contracts represent well over 400 megawatts and an investment of roughly 1.5 to 2 billion dollars – subject to affirmative solar votes in the cabinet.


    An industry
    pioneer, the company has developed the physical and regulatory infrastructure necessary to secure the long-term goal of dramatically shifting Israel away from carbon-based energy sources and towards clean, renewable energy.



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    Benefits of solar power (archives)
    Photo: Ruthie Rubinstein