121 MW Solar Power Tower In Israel To Get 50,000 Batteries

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Originally published on Solar Love.

50,000 lithium-ion rechargeable battery packs will be supplied by Tadiran Batteries to BrightSource’s 121 MW Shalim Thermal Solar Power Station in Israel. These batteries have been designed to last 25 years, even in harsh environments. Tadiran is a subsidiary of the better-known Saft Group.


BrightSource Energy, Alstom, and NOY Infrastructure & Energy Investment Fund are partners in the thermal solar station project. Oakland, CA–based BrightSource will be the provider of the concentrating solar power technology that some call a “solar power tower.”

Over 50,000 computer-controlled heliostats — which function like mirrors — will be combined with the tower that is over 200 meters tall to generate electricity. The Tadiran battery packs will be used to help manage these controllable mirrors, which track the sun on two axes. Using batteries instead of expensive cabling reduces the overall project cost.

This CSP plant will generate copious amounts of steam to turn turbines that generate electricity. It has been estimated that when the thermal solar plant is operational, it will generate enough electricity to power about 120,000 homes in the area. The construction site is the Negev desert, and up to 1,000 jobs will be created by the project.

Igal Carmi, President and CEO at Tadiran Batteries, explained, “We are proud to have been selected by BrightSource Energy to supply our state-of-the-art range of rechargeable lithium-ion battery systems for this innovative project. Awarded by a new client in a new sub-segment of energy harvesting, this order represents a significant commercial breakthrough for Tadiran and highlights the recognition by the industry for the excellence of its batteries.”

This project is exciting for a number of reasons. You can imagine how much sunlight is available in an Israeli desert, so it makes no sense not to utilize some of it. Secondly, battery technology is being used and this type of technology is beginning to emerge as a clean energy solution in a number of settings. Thirdly, the potential to provide electricity to well over 100,000 homes from one clean energy source is remarkable. Israel is also considered to be a technology leader, so it “makes sense” that clean energy technology would take root there.

Image Credit: Ein Avdat, Wiki Commons

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Jake Richardson

Hello, I have been writing online for some time, and enjoy the outdoors. If you like, you can follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JakeRsol

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21 thoughts on “121 MW Solar Power Tower In Israel To Get 50,000 Batteries

  • Why go for a centralized system. The sun shines all over, and now the cost of production and storage is under $1 a watt (Solar cell watt is for less that $.5 and the Li Ion kWh is ~$350 thus $.35 per watt.) It is much cheaper to go for a decentralized system.

    • A large thermal solar plant such as this can use thermal storage to provide electricity in the evening at a much lower cost than batteries can at the moment, so I presume that is the reason for a central facility.

      But I would expect decentralised solar to carry a slight premium in the area due to it being less vulnerable to local eathquakes, meteorite strikes, rabid heliostat eating camels, and so forth.

      • Let us assume the following
        3000 sun shine hours per year
        1 watt will cost $1 Production and storage.
        Over a period of 10 years which is very conservative, it could be double that; then we get the cost of 1 kWh will be ??? ( you work it out Ronald) It will not even pay for the transmition let alone the moving parts.)

        • $1 a watt with 8.2 hours of sunshine a day and it won’t pay for itself over ten years? Wow, it must be competing with some really cheap electricity. Interest rates are really low in Israel too. At 3.5%, which seems reasonable, and with 2% of the capital cost in yearly operations and maintenance, the cost per kilowatt-hour comes to about 4.6 cents. Since its lifespan is more likely to be about 25 years the actual cost would be more like 2.6 cents a kilowatt-hour. Electricity at that price should pay for itself anywhere in the world, except Australia, but we’re weird, so we don’t really count.

          And that’s without storage. If it has storage at that price that makes it more flexible, but no solar thermal station with storage currently costs only $1 a watt. That’s a bit optimistic.

          • Israel is electrically isolated from hostile neighbours and is presumably ready to pay a considerable premium for security of supply.

          • Yeah, you’d think, but apparently electricity is really cheap in Israel, according to an above commenter. Just a sec, I’ll look it up… Hmm… Nothing solid to go on. Israel wholesale electricity prices are “…low by international standards”. And “Israel should not attempt to encourage competition in its electricity industry but continue with a regulated monopoly” Well thats obvious. What sort of a schmuck would attempt to privatise Israel’s electricity sector given it’s met with failure and sometimes disaster around the developed world? You’d have to be some sort of idiot with no interest in reality to think it’s a good idea. Or someone in the electicity sector who wants so much money they’ll have to hire two people to hold their trousers up.

          • Residential rates Israel. 16cents kwh. Rooftop solar would be a good idea there. Very soon, PV and storage will be cheaper than that price… like 2018.

          • One can definitely save money with rooftop solar at Australian installation costs and 16US cents a kilowatt-hour for grid electricity. And their lower cost of capital will help. If rooftop solar is not taking off already, it probably soon will. (Provided of course there isn’t interference from incumbants.)

      • Something was missing from the article, “how are these batteries charged”. I’m guessing there are PV panels located by each heliostat or group of heliostats. Presumably this is cheaper than connecting the heliostats to grid power. Most likely the overall power needs of a heliostat are low, so it could easily be cheaper to power them this way.
        I doubt the net energy storage of these batteries is very high.

        • PV would be the only really sensible choice, and the device that keeps the heliostat properly aligned and on target could also double as the PV charger for the battery. Have no idea if they did it that way, it’s just a thought.

        • The batteries are charged from the electricity that the steam turbine produces of course. What would be the point of PV panels?

          • From the article, “Using batteries instead of expensive cabling reduces the overall project cost.” This is a normal thing these days, at least here in Australia. It’s often cheaper to install some solar cells and batteries than to connect park lights, parking lot signs, security cameras, tram track sensors, and so on, to the grid.

          • Perhaps it is simpler, more efficient and cheaper to charge it locally, instead of going through a more central route? Saves cabling.

  • It looks to me (corrections welcome) that the batteries are an afterthought by BrightSource. Construction started at Ashalim in 2014. There is no mention on older web pages of thermal storage, a curious omission by the company. Abengoa always put it in. I assume that it’s very difficult to retrofit a hot salt tank and heat exchangers. So they had to go for the more expensive batteries.

    • The batteries aren’t for energy storage. They’re only so the heliostats can operate independantly of electrical cabling. (Unless I am very confused about what they are doing.) They save the cost of wiring up each heliostat and save on maintenace and repairs on those cables. And presumably each heliostat can be wirelessly controlled because having to turn them all off manually during a major failure would be nuts.

      • 50,000?

        • There are (or will be) 50,000 heliostats, so that’s one each.

          • Sounds to me like you have the right of it.

          • Wimpy.

            Ivanpah has 173,500 heliostats.

          • We have 50. And our solar satisfies more demand than yours does. So maybe you should stop boasting about the size of your heliostat fleet and concentrate more on giving people what they want. And don’t go telling me that you’re cheap. That’s not much of a boast. You’re big and cheap. But I got everything I need to keep electrons flipping back and forth in my cabling 50 times a second, right here up top. It don’t matter if there’s no feed-in tariff, don’t need no money to make this worthwhile. So if you really want to meet demand, you mount that solar on your roof.

      • Right; if you are to use batteries for actual energy storage, you really might as well go PV all the way, since you could avoid costly part of turbines and salt storage. The article really should explain this bit more than go with “hey batteries are cool!”

Comments are closed.