Solar Panels
Solar PanelsRuti Rubenstein

The first commercial solar panel field in the Middle East is set to light up the Arava next week at Kibbutz Ketura.

The Arava Power Company plans to throw the switch on the 4.95-megawatt power source at Ketura on Sunday, June 5.

Company officials have said the Ketura Sun field is expected to be connected to the country's national electricity grid later in the summer. The solar panel field is comprised of 18,500 Suntech photovoltaic solar panels that produce a total of 9 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year. 

The field, located some 50 kilometers north of Eilat, is expected to draw several high-powered personalities for the occasion. Included on the list will be National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau, Agriculture Minister Orit Noked, Mks Dr. Einat Wilf, Shlomo Molla and Eitan Cabel, along with hip-hop artist Shyne, and others.

“This first-of-its-kind field... will change the face of the energy sector in the country,” said David Rosenblatt, vice chairman and co-founder of the company, “on the condition that the government of Israel releases the caps which are currently in place.”

Another participant in the project is Siemens Project Ventures. “Ketura Sun is the first high power photovoltaic unit that we have set up together with Arava Power in Israel,” noted Johannes Schmidt, CEO Equity Investments & Project Finance of the firm's Financial Services division. “The project is a perfect opportunity to position Siemens Project Ventures as a relaible and strong partner in the Israeli solar market and to further strengthen our environmental portfolio,” he pointed out.

In addition, Bank Hapoalim also played a large role in financing the project. Arava Power says it is hoping to provide up to 10 percent of the country's electricity through alliances with populations throughout Israel's southern regions.