A Solar Community in Israel

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Most likely, the world’s first solar community will be housed in one of the most politically-driven regions of the world.

Kibbutz Reim, located in the western portion of Israel’s Negev desert, will soon rely entirely on energy derived from the sun for domestic consumption. According to Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth‘s YNet site, solar panels will be placed on the roofs of all 130 house in the community and produce electricity for the community. Excess energy will be sold to the Israel Electric Company.

Solar energy has been a hot topic in the United States, but the Negev has a big advantage over most places in America: It gets 330 sunny days a year, according to NPR.

In fact, Israel’s National Infrastructures Ministry plans to have 20 percent of the country’s energy supplied by renewable sources by 2020. To meet that goal, the government issued a build, operate and transfer tender for the construction of two solar thermal plants on 1,000 acres in the Negev. The Ashalim plants were expected to supply 250 MW of electricity, equivalent to three-percent of the nation’s electricity consumption, when completed in 2011.

U.S. President Barack Obama has spent much time discussing alternate energy, including a Jan. 8 speech at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., where he promised that “we will put Americans to work in new jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced – jobs building solar panels and wind turbines.”

Solar energy remains a hot topic, pardon the pun, and just recently, a big to-do was made over the construction of a solar plant in Boulder, Nev., another desert climate. But whether the U.S. can replicate what’s going on in Israel remains to be seen.

Above photo of solar panels in Tel Aviv via Creative Commons on Flickr.

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