Kibbutz Solar Farm will ‘Help Fight Terror’

Peres launched the world’s first thermal-electric solar farm. “It will help fight terror by cutting need for Iranian oil.” Here comes the sun.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 4/29/2009, 8:54 AM / Last Update: 4/29/2009, 10:24 PM

Israel News Photo: Elisha Ben Gedalyahu

President Shimon Peres this week launched the world’s first commercial thermal-electric solar farm, which will generate solar electricity along with hot water for Kibbutz Yavne, and said it will help fight terror by reducing dependency on Iranian oil.

Solar Panels
Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

The Israeli Zenith Solar firm designed the novel system for Yavne, a national-religious kibbutz located halfway between Tel Aviv and Be’er Sheva. The solar energy complex uses mirrors that magnify the sun’s power 1,000 times instead of employing the standard low-efficiency solar cell.

The Zenith system harvests 50 percent of the sun’s radiation, compared with 10 percent in standard systems. A single solar cell opposite a concave dish of 1,000 small mirrors absorbs the solar energy. Each mirror measures about 15 centimeters (six inches) in each direction.

Close-Up of Mirrored panels
Elisha Ben Gedalyahu

The dishes, currently numbering more than two dozen, are powered by a 60-watt motor that keeps them positioned opposite the sun.

Angle of solar dishes changes to follow the sun
Elisha Ben Gedalyahu

Water, pumped to the cell at the rate of seven liters (1.8 gallons) a minute to keep it from burning out, limits its surface temperature to “only” 80 degrees Celsius (176 degrees Fahrenheit).

Solar Cell Absorbs Sunpower
Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

The resultant near-boiling water is pumped into a 20,000-liter (5,200-gallon) storage tank that keeps the water hot for up to 24 hours. From there, it is pumped to kibbutz homes.

Huge tank stores water heated by solar system
Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

Zenith’s team, which includes entrepreneur Roy Segev and Ben Gurion University Professor David Faiman, explained that the system will provide approximately half of the energy needs of Kibbutz Yavne residents. They will be saving 40,000 liters (10,400 gallons) of regular fuel, and the cost of the solar energy will be approximate 8 cents a kilowatt hour, slightly less than the cost of electricity supplied by the Israel Electric Corp (IEC).

Whelan, Segev and Prof. Haiman
Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

President Peres, speaking at the ceremony launching the solar farm, called it “democratic” energy that is available to everyone in the world. He added, “It is a natural way to fight terror because the oil-producing countries of Iran and Venezuela destroy our lives by terror.”

President Shimon Peres
Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

Segev, Zenith’s chief executive officer, noted that the project is financed solely by Israeli venture capitalists and without government aid. Zenith co-founder Bob Whelan of Australia refrained from detailing the cost of the project but said it amounts to “millions of dollars.” Yavneh’s business manager Moshe Leider said the kibbutz made a modest investment of less than $250,000 for the pilot system.

Kibbutz choir sings Here Comes the Sun
Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

The solar farm is located next to the kibbutz’s high school and in the heart of the cooperative agricultural-industrial community. The rows of the solar system are approximately 50 feet apart. Yavneh, known for its thriftiness and resourcefulness since it was founded 68 years ago, is not going to waste the two acres (eight dunam) of land.

Solar dish captures sun at dusk
Elisha Ben Gedalyahu

Lieder said that a vineyard will be planted between the rows of solar dishes, making the solar field a true farm in the original sense of the word.

Science Minister Rabbi/Prof. Hershkowitz
Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu


Enclosed water pipe cools cell
Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu