Illustration: power plant
Illustration: power plant Flash 90

Israel's first hydroelectric storage facility will be built by Alstom, a French engineering group. The company announced on Thursday that it has won a 120 million euro ($163 million) contract to build the facility, which will reportedly be operational by 2018.

The company said that the project, which will have the group operating and maintaining the 300 MW Gilboa plant for 18 years, "represents Alstom's first entry into the Israeli hydro market."

The new facility, which will be Israel's "first pumped storage power station," is planned to be built 60 kilometers (37 miles) east of Haifa, and is anticipated to raise national power generation capacity by 2.5%, reports AFP.

As a pumped storage facility, the plant pumps water from other power stations during times of low consumption to a high-level reservoir, from which the water can be released during high demand to generate electricity.

"It will contribute to increasing the reliability of electricity supply and will provide an important tool to control the demand and distribution of electricity," remarked the company.

The deal with Alstom comes after the Dutch water company Vitens announced it was cutting ties with its Israeli counterpart Mekorot in mid December, over Mekorot's presence in Judea and Samaria.

While Vitens said it consulted with the Dutch Foreign Ministry in boycotting the Israeli company, not long thereafter Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte denounced the move, saying it was against Dutch policy and would not be implemented.