50 wind turbines the height of Tel Aviv’s Azrieli Towers will be built at Emek Habacha in the northern Golan Heights at an investment of €250 million. The 120-megawatt wind farm will be one of the largest in the Middle East.
Israel currently has one 6-megawatt wind farm at Tel Asania on the Golan. New wind farm projects have been frozen until the national outline plan for wind farms for the generation of electricity is completed. The Emek Habacha project was approved for deposit by the Northern Regional Planning and Building Commission for objections by the public, after the Ministry of Defense announced that it was lifting its objections to the project. Only the environmental organizations’ representative on the committee objected to the plan, and proposed moving nine of the turbines farther away from bird migration routes.
Kinetic Energies – Alternative Electrical Energies Ltd. is promoting the project. The company is owned by US-Jewish investor Isaac Sutton, the chairman of Hadas Arazim Investment House Ltd. Other investors include US investors, six communities on the northern Golan Heights, and Dr. Eli Ben-Dov, who was responsible for wind energy at Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) (TASE: ELEC.B22).
Under the plan, the wind turbines will be built east of Road 89. Each turbine will generate 2.5 megawatts and top a 130-meter high tower (the height of the Azrieli Towers). When the developers obtain final approval from the planning commission, they expect to obtain approval of electricity tariffs to enable them to secure the financing for the project. Sources inform ”Globes” that the developers are in talks with Bank Leumi (TASE: LUMI) to lead the syndicate that will provide NIS 1 billion in financing.
The developers will provide 20% of the €250 million project from equity.
The Ministry of Defense has objected to the construction of wind turbines in Israel, citing disruption to Air Force operations. Environmental organizations have also opposed plans, citing studies which have found that wind turbines endanger birds and bats.
The Ministry of Defense representative insisted on having the authority to determine the color of the turbines to make them easier for Air Force pilots to see. The project developers also agreed to operational demands by the ministry.
The project’s attorney predicts that it will come on line in 2015. He said that approval by the Regional Planning Commission was a critical step for the project, and that it was now necessary to focus on obtaining an electricity production license and securing the financing.
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