Integration of photovoltaics into the Israeli electricity market 2018

Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology is continuing to form a dominant share of new capacity additions in the electricity generation segment in Israel and worldwide. This study summarizes the 2017-18 developments in the solar photovoltaic segment in Israel and provides updated figures on electric capacity and generation. The total capacity of grid-connected PV facilities in Israel was at 963 MWp by the end of 2017 and is expected to reach over 1,200 MWp by the end of 2018. The capacity of PV facilities increased by 12% year-over-year from the end of 2016 to the end of 2017. In terms of electric generation, solar PV facilities produced 1,584 million kWh in 2017 – a slight increase of 3% from 1,531 million kWh in 2016. The percentage of solar PV generation out of total electricity generation in the country remained practically unchanged at 2.3%.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology is continuing to form the dominant share of new capacity additions in the electricity generation segment in Israel and worldwide. The global rate of PV deployment has grown exponentially for many years, due to a strong demand for a modular, 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 also been introduced into the market over the past several years, including distributed energy harvesting hardware, facility planning software solutions, real-time smart monitoring and more. Those complementary solutions assist in integrating more PV facilities into the grid and reducing construction and operation costs. While distributed electricity storage solutions have already appeared on the market, they are still a marginal phenomenon. However, further evolution of electricity storage technology would also drive higher levels of PV integration.

Grid-connected solar PV facilities were introduced into Israel in summer 2008, with the first government-subsidized feed-in tariff program. Since then, PV installations have been ongoing across the country, producing a constantly growing capacity of grid-connected facilities. 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 integration of solar energy. Though the 2014 target was missed out, two important decisions complemented the previous 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 may get Israel close to its 2020 targets.

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. Since the introduction of the first solar tariff program in 2008, a notable number of various programs and initiatives have evolved. By 2018, 6 feed-in-tariff programs for small-scale PV facilities have already been implemented, with the seventh FIT program coming in tact on August 2018. In addition, one feed-in-tariff quota for medium-sized commercial PV facilities, as well as medium-sized land tenders sub program and one feed-in-tariff quota for utility-scale PV facilities have been implemented during 2010-16. From 2014 to 2018, Israeli Electricity Authority also introduced net metering quota for residential and commercial PV facilities, issued two tenders for two Ashalim solar PV fields and provided licenses to several utility-scale solar PV projects by converting solar thermal and wind quotas to solar PV. Finally, in August 2018, the Electricity Authority also added an unlimited self-consumption scheme for grid-connected PV facilities of any size.

Figure 1. Solar PV new annual installations (blue) and total PV capacity by the end of each calendar year (purple) in MWp . 2018-19 figures are an estimate.

The total capacity of grid-connected PV facilities in Israel was at 963 MWp by the end of 2017 and is expected to reach over 1,200 MWp by the end of 2018. The capacity of PV facilities increased by 12% year-over-year from the end of 2016 to the end of 2017. Solar PV segment made up 5.4% of grid-connected electric capacity in Israel by the end of 2017 (up from 4.9% in the end of 2016) and is expected to reach over 6.0% by the end of 2018.

Figure 2. Annual electricity production by the solar PV segment in Israel (purple) in millions of kWh. 2018-19 figures are an estimate.

In terms of electric generation, solar PV facilities produced 1,584 million kWh in 2017 – a slight increase of from 1,531 million kWh in 2016. The percentage of solar PV generation out of total electricity generation in the country remained practically unchanged at 2.3%. In 2018, the generation is expected to reach near 2,000 million kWh, hence surpassing 3.0% of total electricity generation. Solar PV segment formed the lion share of renewable electricity generation in Israel, which reached the level of 1,786 kWh in 2017 – also up from 1,733 kWh of electricity from grid-connected renewables in 2016.

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