Integration of PV into Israeli electricity market 2017

The photovoltaic (PV) technology, which is the mainstream technology to harvest solar energy and transform it into electricity, is forming a growing share of the electricity production segment in Israel and worldwide. Grid-connected solar PV segment was introduced into Israel in summer 2008, with the first government-subsidized feed-in tariff program. Since then, PV installations have been ongoing within the country, producing a constantly growing capacity of grid-connected facilities, despite various delays and challenges. The total capacity of grid-connected PV facilities in Israel was at 859 MWp by late 2016 and is about to reach nearly 1,000 MWp by the end of 2017. The vast majority of renewable sources are PV, so the renewable electricity production figures mostly represent solar PV sources - about 1,110 million kWh in 2015 and about 1,570 million kWh in 2016.

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The photovoltaic (PV) technology, which is the mainstream technology to harvest solar energy and transform it into electricity, is forming a growing share of the electricity production segment in Israel and worldwide. The global rate of PV deployment has grown exponentially for many years, due to a strong demand for a cheap, reliable and environmentally clean technology for electricity production. PV facilities are utilized for both off-grid energy generation in remote areas and for grid-connected applications. Moreover, complementary technologies have been introduced into the market over the past few years, including distributed harvesting optimizers, micro-inverters, facility planning software solutions, real-time monitoring and more, while distributed electricity storage solutions have first appeared on the market during the past year. Within Israel, one can encounter solar facilities all over the country, though several challenges still exist ahead of converting PV technology into mainstream means for electricity generation.

Grid-connected solar PV segment was introduced into Israel in summer 2008, with the first government-subsidized feed-in tariff program. Since then, PV installations have been ongoing within the country, producing a constantly growing capacity of grid-connected facilities, despite various delays and challenges. In 2009, governmental decision #4450 determined a target of 5% renewable electricity production by the year 2014 and 10% renewable electricity production by the year 2020, largely relying on solar energy. Though the 2014 target was missed out, two important decisions have recently complemented the existing solar PV deployment plans: one diverting much planned capacity from solar thermal and other renewable technologies to solar PV and another decision, accepted towards the 2015 Paris Climate Summit, setting the targets for renewable electricity production in Israel at 17% by 2030. Altogether the planned framework in line with modified regulations and new financial models such as net metering may get Israel close to its 2020 targets.

Figure 1. Solar PV new annual installations (blue) and total capacity by the end of each calendar year (purple) in MWp units. 2017-18 figures are an estimate.

The total capacity of grid-connected PV facilities in Israel was at 859 MWp by late 2016 and is about to reach nearly 1,000 MWp by the end of 2017. This made up 4.9% of grid-connected electric capacity by late 2016 and is to reach about 5.7% by the end of 2017. According to Electricity Authority, by September 2017 some 950 MWp of PV facilities had already been grid-connected.

Figure 2. Solar PV annual electricity production in Israel (purple) in million kWh 2008-16.

In terms of electric production, according to Electricity Authority, 1,276 million kWh (2.0% of total electricity) were produced by grid-connected renewable sources in 2015, whereas 1,733 million kWh (2.6% of total electricity) were produced in 2016. The vast majority of renewable sources are PV, so the renewable electricity production figures mostly represent solar PV sources - about 1,110 million kWh in 2015 and about 1,570 million kWh in 2016.