Daily Israel Report

Legislation 'To Turn Agricultural Plowshares into Solar Panels'

The Knesset is considering a proposal by Labor MK Amir Peretz to grant renewable solar energy agricultural status.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 2/10/2010, 11:46 AM / Last Update: 2/10/2010, 12:14 PM

Israel news photo

The Knesset is considering a bill proposed by Labor Knesset Member Amir Peretz that would grant renewable solar energy agricultural status. The proposal is expected to go to the ministerial committee for legislative affairs in the next few weeks.

The purpose of the bill would be to enable the establishment of solar power stations and fields on agricultural lands without having to change their designation, a process that could take years.

“I see the establishment of solar stations, including solar energy farms as as a top priority for Israel,” said Peretz. “But there is no doubt that we will also have to create new laws and restrictions in order to preserve environmental values such as soil conservation, archaeological and green areas,” he added.

The former defense minister said that the establishment of solar energy farms on agricultural lands in the Negev would also likely speed up a similar trend elsewhere in the country, a situation that would be a 'win-win' from an energy and economic standpoint.

Peretz added that he viewed the process as one that “can promote technological development while accelerating political and economic gain.” Solar energy has become an especially hot item in Israel's renewable energy technology field.

Fifteen kibbutzim and moshavim recently signed long-term contracts with two renewable energy giants in a new project to develop mid-sized solar energy fields in the Arava, the Negev and northern Israel.

Groundbreaking for the first step of the project is to take place later this year at Kibbutz Ketura in the Arava, a region that Eilot Regional Chairman Udi Gat has said he hopes will someday become Israel's “Silicon Valley of renewable energy.”