The solar panels will be erected on roughly 1,500 dunams (equal to square meters) of kibbutz land at a cost of $400 million. Arava Power is a joint venture of Kibbutz Ketura and foreign backers led by Yosef Abramowitz.
The Israel Electric Company (IEC) approved the project after determining that it would be able to run a line from the Arava to the national grid. It said the line from the Arava could be built within four years pending authorizations.
While there are still some hurdles to overcome before construction can begin, the IEC's approval was a critical step, according to Abramowitz. With IEC approval, the land can now be rezoned from agricultural to power station use.
Currently, the world's largest PV field is in Germany with a capacity of 40 MW. Spain has built A 20 MW PV field. When built, Arava Power's 80 MW field would be twice as big as Germany's.
The company recently announced an exclusive agreement with 15 kibbutzim in the Negev and Arava to use their land for solar fields.
Arava Power announced the IEC approval in the run-up to the Eilat-Eilot International Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibition.
The major international conference, designed to put Israel on the renewable energy world map, will feature keynote addresses by Israeli government officials and parliamentarians, sessions and presentations from renewable energy companies both Israeli and international.
Organizers have said they expect 1,000 attendees from around the world.
A number of launches are expected to take place during the three-day event in Eilat. Israeli solar thermal company Aora will launch the world's first commercial hybrid solar/gas (bio-fuel) turbine power plant. Another Israeli company, wind turbine manufacturer Leviathan Energy, will be unveiling the "Wind Lotus," a small wind turbine for residential and small business use that operates at low wind speeds.