Israeli Farms Become Test Ground for Solar Energy Project

Sun-kissed Israel is testing solar collectors in agricultural fields as part of its goal to produce 30% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.

Photo-voltaic panels will be erected in farmlands in the first project of its kind in land-poor and densely populated Israel, according to the Energy Ministry’s acting chief scientist, Gideon Friedmann.

“In a small country like Israel that is also an energy and food island, we need to be very efficient in our utilization of land,” said Yossi Abramowitz, one of the founders of Israel’s solar industry. “Agro-voltaic is very promising.”

Israel started harnessing solar energy almost 70 years ago with panels that warm water, yet it has been slow to move to solar-generated electricity. It’s been hindered in part by a lack of energy storage technology, and by technical adjustments it must make to its existing power infrastructure.

The agro-voltaic solution mitigates some of the issues by bringing the power generation closer to population centers. Crops also benefit because the collectors can be adjusted to optimize the plants’ needs.

The state will fund 10 million shekels ($3.08 million) of agricultural research, and ease bureaucracy for installation permits. It wants the private sector to take over from there.

The pilot stage is expected to take up to four years.

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