Arava Power Company, Israel's leading solar developer, unveiled two separate financial closes involving a total of 8 medium-size solar fields. Comprising by far the largest financial announcement in the history of Israel’s solarindustry, the two deals catapult Arava Power even further as Israel’s far-and-away solar industry leader.In partnership with the Noy Fund and financers Migdal Insurance Company, Bank Hapoalim and Amitim, financial close was achieved on 5 solar projects totaling 35 megawatts to be built in the Negev Desert. Noy Fund is expected to invest NIS 60 million and the financing entities will provide a total of NIS 400 million. Keren Kayemeth LeYisrael (KKL-JNF), which has an ownership stake in Arava Power Company, will also serve as an investor. The total projected cost of construction for the 5 projects is estimated at NIS 500 million.
“The financial close that was signed signifies yet another endorsement of Arava Power as the leading company in the Israeli solar industry,” said David Rosenblatt, Co-founder and Vice Chairman of APC. “We are helping to fulfill David Ben-Gurion's vision of turning the Negev into the center of solar energy production.”Financial close on the 5 projects was made possible after each received a provisional license from the Public Utilities Authority and signed a Power Purchase Agreement with the Israel Electric Company. Arava Power Company estimates that construction on the first of the five fields will begin within a few months.“These installations to be built in the Negev Desert are yet another step towards energy independence for the State of Israel and a greener future for generations to come,” commented Jon Cohen, CEO of Arava Power Company. Noy Fund and Arava Power have previously partnered for the Ketura Sun project – Israel's first and only commercial solar field connected to the country’s electricity grid. Noy Fund previously purchased 36 percent of the 4.95 megawatt solar field at Kibbutz Ketura, valued at NIS 100 million.
“This financing is a direct continuation of our previous investment in Arava Power and concurs with the Fund’s strategic vision to focus on meaningful investments in the solar industry,” said Pini Cohen, Chairman of the Noy Fund. “The partners and directors of the Fund, Gil-Ad Boshwitz and Ran Shelach, intend to contribute their professional experience in the projects’ implementation and ensure their success.”The project contractor (EPC) for all 5 fields is Siemens Israel, which also built KeturaSun. The solar field has been producing green energy since September 2011 and generates approximately 9 million kilowatt hours each year. At the inauguration ceremony at Kibbutz Ketura in June 2011, Arava Power Company announced its pipeline of over 40 projects, comprising large and medium fields, rooftop operations and Bedouin family-owned lands, totaling over 400 megawatts and an investment of approximately $1.5 billion.“Our work is not yet done. Israel needs to adopt the European Union goal of 20 percent renewables by 2020 and this major milestone by Arava Power is proof positive that it can be reached,” said Yosef Abramowitz, Co-founder and President of APC. “Furthermore, an injustice must be corrected by creating a special quota of solar fields for Bedouin land owners, who are locked out of the current solar program.”
In partnership with EDF Israel, the Renewable Energy branch of the French Electric Company in this country, Arava Power Company also announced the financial close of 3 additional solar projects in the Negev totaling 23 megawatts. The projects will be built in the Kibbutz communities of Kerem Shalom, Mishmar HaNegev, and Bror Hail. Representing an investment of NIS 280 million, Bank Hapoalim will provide 80% of the financing. All 3 projects have received provisional licenses from the Public Utilities Authority and Power Purchase Agreements from the Israel Electric Company.“EDF believes in the Israeli economy and we are proud to be strategic partners alongside Arava Power, the pioneer of Israel’s solar industry,” said Ayalon Vaniche, CEO of EDF Israel. “Bank Hapoalim views the financing of these eight solar projects as a continuation of its first transaction with Arava Power Company in the field of solar energy,” said Tzachi Cohen, Vice President of Bank Hapoalim’s Corporate Division. “The timetable demanded extreme effort and cooperation on both sides.”