Israel is building a solar energy tower that will soar 820 feet high, part of an ambitious renewable energy project deep in the desert that could kickstart the lagging local industry.
According to the Associated Press, the tower, part of a sprawling solar power campus called Ashalim, will be the largest solar energy initiative in Israel when it is finished in 2018.
For years, Israeli engineers have created advanced solar energy technology for export. But they found it difficult to implement their ideas at home due to government bureaucracy. Today, Israel gets less 2.5 percent of its energy from renewable energy, far behind cloudier countries like Germany, which derives 30 percent of its electricity from solar and wind power.
The Ashalim project, created by BrightSource Energy with General Electric and NOY Infrastructure & Energy Investment Fund, is meant to change that.
The solar tower uses 50,000 mirrors, which reflect the sun’s energy onto the tower, which heats a boiler that creates steam to spin a turbine and create electricity.
About a dozen solar tower fields exist in the world, including three towers in California.
In addition to the tower, another plot at Ashalim will store solar energy when the sun goes down. A third area of the project will use photovoltaic technology to produce power. Together, the solar tecnhologies will generate about 310 megawatts of power, which is about 1.6 percent of the country’s needs.
Israel’s Finance Ministry says if the Ashalim site is successful, it will aim to create more renewable projects.