PHOTOVOLTAICS IN ISRAEL: A Who’s Who

DR. AMNON MANOR

Brief Summary of the Survey: n Many Israelis are involved in Photovoltaics

(PV) in Israel. The scientific community is the predominant body dealing with PV in Israel. (There are more than 50 group leaders involved directly in the PV field in Israel, while the total personnel involved in PV in Israel is estimated to be around 120 people). The commercial activities are figured by the limited Israeli market (the total PV capacity installed in Israel till today is about l50kWp). However, some unique Israeli PV systems fit well into the international market. In addition, some ongoing R&D works in Israel can lay foundations for future advanced PV technology.

The relevant local technological infrastructure is well advanced, enabling Israel to expand its commercial activities worldwide, incorporating industry and the scientific community. Israel has a good basis and relative advantages to penetrate the niche of the hi-tech PV systems involving concentrating PV systems and space PV arrays. The new era of peace in the Middle East might open new markets for the Israeli terrestrial PV systems.

Israel should keep its good reputation in solar energy as a national asset, by governmental incentives and by selective support to both R&D and industrial activities.

A. Basic Research

* New materials for PV
* New concepts for PV

List of main institutes involved in R&D of photovoltaics in Israel:

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva
The Ben-Gurion National Solar Energy Center, Sde Boker
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem
J Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, Sde Boker
Jerusalem College of Technology, Jerusalem
Joint Israeli-Russian Lab for Energy Research, Beer Sheva
Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa
Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv
The Scientific Research Foundation, Jerusalem
Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot

B. Commercial Applications:

Conventional and simple PV systems:
* Various PV lighting systems
* PV rural electrification
* Various PV power suppliers

Unique and special systems:
* PV Controlled Lighting Systems (CLS) for road junctions
* Automatic PV lighting posts for bus stops
* Hybrid Diesel PV systems for rural electrification
* Efficient PV lighted traffic warning signs
* Rural school packages operated by PV systems
* Security PV systems

Example of a unique system:
There are hundreds of Automatic Solar Lighting Posts near bus stop shelters in Israel. These systems automatically intensify the light to a very high level in the presence of persons. The light is dimmed to a lower level when there is no need for high luminance. This concept was already materialized in Israel in 1986. These systems have replaced simple solar lighting posts that had a constant lighting level.

The significant energy saving on one hand and the high intensify light that fits the real demand on the other hand, have made the system a very attractive commercial alternative.

List of main bodies involved in commercial application of PV in Israel:

A Manor – Development & Engineering Ltd, Omer
I Ziegler Elec Eng Co Ltd, Tel Aviv
Interdan Ltd, Haifa
Interflex Ltd, Petah Tikvah
The Israel Electric Corp, Haifa
Solartec Ltd, Beer Sheba
Solor Ltd, Tel Aviv
Rand Energy Systems, Tel Aviv
Ranor Ltd, Rehovot
The Israeli Aircraft Industry, Yahud

C. Governmental Activities:

– Demonstration
– Monitoring and Measurements
– Incentives and Technology Transfer

List of governmental organizations involved in PV in Israel

Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, Jerusalem
Ministry of Science and Technolgoy, Jerualem
Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Jerusalem
Ministry of Defence, Tel Aviv
Ministry of Agriculture, Tel Aviv

D. Technological Progress:

Israel has a wide and deep technological basis related to the PV field. However, there is no commercial production of PV cells or modules in Israel.

The PV field requires specialties in the following subjects:
* Solar radiation and environmental related phenomena
* PV cells and modules
* PV arrays – arrangements, wiring installation, etc.
* Controllers – charging, discharging, load
* Energy storage (batteries)
* Constructors
* End units – lighting, pumping, refrigerating, power and grid connection.

The PV array in a typical present PV generator costs above 60% of the total system expenses. It is predicted that in the year 2000 this figure will decrease to 50% The PV peak power of each system is related directly to the load demand. and consequently affects dominantly the system’s price. Therefore, by a good engineering approach and by utilizing advanced technologies, one can optimize the system and save both initial investment and operational costs. Israel has the knowhow and the technological basis to engage them in PV systems.

 Example: Saving 1 watt of a load operating       24 hours a day will save  energy of                    24 Whr day, which reduces the peak power by          7 Wp  (winter) reduces the storage battery by         100 Whr (4 days - autonomy) reduces the controller peak by           7 W all of the above savings reduce the basic costs, at least by                US$ 50 

There are in Israel some hi-tech industries dealing with the microelectronics and the electronic devices and with the field of advanced detectors. This knowhow and technology, as well as the infrastructure, provide a good basis for Israel to produce advanced PV cells and modules. In addition, the technology progress in the other relevant specializations, such as batteries, controllers, solar energy etc, enables Israel to produce and integrate complete and advanced PV systems. Such activity will be justified economically.

E. Market Background:

The local Israeli PV market, based on existing PV technology, is limited. Israel has a well developed electrical utility grid and the majority of conventional electricity consumers are already connected to the grid. The PV local market is mainly motivated by market forces, resulting in cost-effective applications.

Usually most of the commercial applications are stand-alone with a range of a few Wp to a few hundred Wp. Typical examples of such applications are the automatic solar lighting posts for bus stop shelters (-50 Wp). These systems provide the most economical solution for post lighting near to unlighted bus stop shelters. Other examples are the hundreds of small PV power suppliers for agricultural irrigation controllers (3/10 Wp), thousands of PV flashing warning lights for traffic safety along roadworks in Israel (1/3Wp) and hundreds of PV lighting systems for telephone booths (~50 Wp). There are also bigger systems of rural electrification for remote areas (200/1000 Wp) and a few PV systems of a size bigger than 5kWp. There is one rooftop grid connected system, installed by the Israel Electric Corporation, for demonstration and technology follow up activities. There is no defined program to extend the PV grid connected subject in the near future.

The total PV peak power installed in Israel so far is about 140 kWp.

F. Future Outlook:

Some ongoing R&D work can lay a foundation for future advanced PV technology. The new era of peace in the Middle East and the progress in PV technology may open new markets for the Israeli systems. The practical experience as well as the engineering and technology basis may assist Israel to extend the commercial activities in photovoltaics.