June 28, 2008

Experimental Israeli-US Solar Energy Project Set Up in Negev

Text of report in English by Israeli settlers' Arutz 7 Radio website on 27 June

An Israeli entrepreneur is harnessing the sun's energy in an industrial park in the northern Negev, where he plans to refine the technology and then replicate it in California's Mojave Desert. Arnold Goldman was a dreamer who didn't give up on his dream even when oil prices dropped and the State of California decided not to renew its incentives for clean energy producers in the 1990's.

Goldman's Luz International company which he had built in the 1980's, went bankrupt in 1991 as a result. But the dream didn't die, and the UCLA and USC-educated scientist built BrightSource Energy Inc. and Luz II instead.

This past April, the Israeli entrepreneur signed the largest power-buying agreement in the history of solar power with Pacific Gas & Electric. A month later his clean-energy company raised $115 million from like-minded investors such as Google.org and BP Alternative Energy, enabling him to build the world's first solar thermal energy field at Rotem Industrial Park in the northern Negev.

Located between the southern cities of Arad and Dimona, the site is the testing ground for five larger solar fields that Goldman plans to build in California.

The field of 1,640 robotic mirrors, called heliostats, looks a little like a mechanical rock concert in action when the sun rises in the morning. Each mirror is slightly larger than a ping pong table and is controlled by a computer; the tables turn towards the sun as it moves through the sky. The mirrors focus the sun's rays on the point of a 200-foot tower where a water boiler is to produce high-pressure steam.

The system is designed to produce up to 900 megawatts of clean, renewable energy for the State of California in the next decade, enough to power 540,000 homes per year.

[Jerusalem Infolive.tv, commercial online service providing television clips in English, Arabic, French, and Spanish, carries a video clip on 17 June, describing the solar project. Accompanying text explains: "California energy company, BrightSource Energy and its Israeli subsidiary LUZ II, unveiled a solar field in Israel this week that will test new technology the company plans to use during the construction of several massive solar power plants in California next year.

["The new solar field, with its 60 metre-high tower and some 1,641 mirrors, sits on about 12,000 square metres of Israel's southern Negev Desert. While it is capable of generating 1.5 megawatts, it does not produce electricity for public use, but rather test the technologies that will power future plants, which will be about 50 times larger than the one in Israel. BrightSource Energy and its Israel subsidiary LUZ II are currently at the forefront of a global race to find energy alternatives to replace fossil fuels. A race that analysts estimate is worth over 150 billion US dollars per year."]

Originally published by Arutz 7 Radio website, Bet El (West Bank), in English 27 Jun 08.

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