Israel’s energy and water minister, Uzi Landau, has signed a further 19 licenses for 27MW of solar photovoltaic projects, bringing the total number of conditional solar licenses granted for the country’s electricity grid to 515.5MW.

The licenses were authorized after the minister received approval at a public utility authority plenary meeting held on January 9, 2012. This news came just days after the ministry allocated NIS 10 million for planning up to 2,000 hectares of future solar power plants in the state.

The ministry is set to employ Geo-Prospect to help pinpoint and plan sites for future solar projects, conduct feasibility studies for the prospective power plants with capacity for 50MW and promote detailed national master plans for each project’s construction.

Sites that are reportedly under consideration include a 600-hectare area in Dimona; a 200-hectare area west of Dimona’s southern industrial zone; a 500-hectare space within a railway loop east of Dimona; a 600-hectare area southwest of Rotem Park; and a 250-hectare area in the southern Timna industrial area.

“The narrow borders of the State of Israel require us to make sure that plants are situated in such a way that they only occupy a necessary amount of space, with an optimal use of system capabilities,” Landau said. “This way, clean electricity will benefit everyone, while upholding the values of land, scenery and nature.”