Four Eiffel Towers could be built with the 28,000 tons of steel being used by Negev Energy to construct the Ashalim Thermo-Solar Power Station in Israel’s Negev Desert. Spread flat over 988 acres of sand, the array is nevertheless an impressive sight that tourists will be able to view from a platform after the plant opens next summer.

The Negev Energy project – which ISRAEL21c toured recently — is one of two gigantic thermo-solar plants going up side by side in Ashalim, about 40 kilometers south of Beersheva. The other one actually does incorporate a tall tower.

In addition to these two plants generating electricity from the sun’s heat using different technologies, two other plants will produce a total of 70 megawatts of electricity from sunlight using photovoltaic panels. The combination of technologies in one spot is unprecedented in the world.

Altogether, the Ashalim complex will provide approximately 300 megawatts of electricity daily to the Israel Electric Company’s national grid, contributing 2.5 percent toward the government’s goal of 10% renewable energy by 2020. Currently, only 2.6% of Israel’s electricity is generated from renewable sources.