It’s time for my next Good News Friday installment, despite time being short because it is erev Shabbat Hagadol.
My first item for today concerns the burgeoning field of solar energy in Israel.
Pop quiz: Which country ranks tied with Austria and South Africa for solar energy “attractiveness,” and is tied with Saudi Arabia (and just behind Chile and the UAE) for overall renewable energy attractiveness?
The answer: Israel, which ranks 17th and 37th, respectively, in Ernst & Young’s most recent index rankings released a few weeks ago.
This week, though, construction has begun on five solar PV projects in the Arava and Negev deserts (in the kibbutzim of Maslul, Shoval, Yotvata, Grofit, and Elifaz), totaling 35-MW installed capacity and with investment of nearly 500 million shekels (€100 million). Arava Power and Soluciones Técnicas Integrales Norland (STi Norland) are developing the projects, with backing by Midgal Insurance Company, Bank Hapoalim, and Amitim. Siemens Israel, which also partnered with (and took a 40 percent stake in) Arava Power to build the first PV field in Israel (the 50-MW Ketura Sun, commissioned in 2011) is the general contractor, and JA Solar is supplying 123,000 of its high-efficiency (around 15 percent) polycrystalline modules (average output: 290 Wp). These projects, announced last May, will come online this summer, all with signed PPAs with the Israel Electric Company.
Arava and EDF Israel are also developing three other solar projects totaling 23 MW in southern kubbutzim of Kerem Shalom, Mishmar HaNegev, and Bror Hail.
This is great news for Israel both economically, and (together with its natural gas fields) for its energy independence.
The next item is from the military-defense field: Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) has won a $400 million contract with the Brazilian Air Force to convert jetliners for military use:
Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) has won a contract from the Brazilian Air Force to convert Boeing 767-300ER jetliners into planes for multi-mission planes refueling, strategic troop, cargo transport, and medical evacuation. IAI beat US and European companies in the tender. IAI declined to mention the size of the deal, but aviation experts told “Globes” that they estimated at $250-400 million, making it one IAI’s largest ever contracts in Brazil.
Israeli sources told “Globes” that IAI will initially convert three Boeing 767s, and may later convert more planes. The planes will customized to Brazilian Air Force specifications, and will be delivered after IAI completes the lengthy and complex licensing process. The project will take several years to implement, under the Brazilian Air Force’s KC-X2 program to replace four KC-137 (militarized Boeing 707s).
IAI CEO Joseph Weiss told “Globes” today that the Brazilian deal was a foothold in one of the world’s fastest growing markets, which the company has targeted. “We’ve had deals in Brazil before, but this is one of the big ones,” he said. “We’re making many efforts to establish our position in Brazil and we’re examining participation in other ventures.”
This is excellent news for the IAI, and good news too for the Brazilian Air Force, since Israel’s high standards are well-known. Kol hakavod to everyone involved in this deal.
My last item for today gets us into the mood for the upcoming Pesach festival which starts on Monday night.
Watch the Maccabeats a capella group as they perform the Pesach story to the tunes of Les Miserables. Their singing is beautiful and the lyrics are very cleverly adapted. Enjoy!
After today and until Pesach starts, I will only be posting Pesach-themed stuff unless something extremely newsworthy happens
Wishing everyone Shabbat shalom and a relaxing rest before the mad rush begins after Shabbat.