EDF Renewables Israel, a subsidiary of French utility EDF, and Abu Dhabi-based solar developer Masdar have agreed to work together on renewable energy projects in Israel.
Masdar and EDF Renewables Israel will collaborate on a number of existing renewables projects as well as work together on new sites announced by the government of Israel. Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, chief executive of Masdar, and Bruno Bensasson, chairman and CEO of EDF Renewables, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at a virtual ceremony this week as part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW). Masdar kicked off the week of conferences by signing a previous MoU to explore green hydrogen energy generation for Abu Dhabi’s aviation, shipping and transport infrastructure.
Both companies are already collaborating on similar projects in the Middle East and North Africa, including the 2GW Al Dhafra project in the UAE, which will be the world's largest solar energy field when it is completed.
The announcement comes as Israel’s Energy Ministry strives to meet ambitious targets for a renewables sector boom set out last year. The ministry released a plan in June to invest 80 billion Israeli Shekel (US$23 billion) of government and private funding to deploy up to 15GW of solar by 2030, covering 30% of the country’s electricity needs. The country covered just 5% of its energy generation through solar in 2019, according to IRENA.
Energy minister Dr Yuval Steinitz – who was reconfirmed to his role in mid-May – said that solar would be central to a broader energy and water infrastructure investment plan set in place to aid economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government held two auctions for solar-plus-storage projects last year. Michael Salomon, CEO at consultancy Clean Horizon, told sister publication Energy-Storage.news the first, which saw 168MW of solar and 672MWh of energy storage, put the country “on the map” in the renewables sector. Another auction at the end of last year awarded contracts for 609MW of solar PV alongside 2.4GWh of energy storage.
Steinitz, Israel's Minister of Energy, said the partnership between and EDF is an “expression of confidence in Israel's energy market and will help us achieve our goal of becoming a world leader in solar energy within six to seven years.”
Masdar boss Al Ramahi added that Israel and the UAE have “embarked on a new era of co-operation on renewable energy” which will help both to reach their energy mix targets.
Although Israel’s solar capacity lags behind neighbouring countries in the Middle East at present, EDF’s Bensasson said the country has “long-term potential” to become a competitive market in the sector.
“I am very happy to extend to new geographies, our trusted partnership with Masdar and to sign this strategic alliance today in Israel,” he said.
“By joining our forces with Masdar on the Israeli market, we will strengthen the leading position that the teams of EDF Renewables Israel have achieved over the last decade.”