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Israel, which hopes to become energy-independent with its huge natural gas fields, is aiming to significantly boost its solar power generation over the next decade under a new US$22.8 billion (80 billion Israeli shekel) plan, the country’s energy ministry said, as carried by Reuters.

The huge Leviathan natural gas field – discovered in 2010 – together with other fields discovered offshore Israel in the past decade such as Tamar, Karish, and Tanin, is expected to help Israel become energy independent.

Natural gas currently accounts for around 64 percent of Israel’s electricity generation, while solar power generation represents just 5 percent of its electricity output, despite the favorable geographical position to capture solar energy.

Under the new plan, Israel expects to have 30 percent of its electricity generated by solar power by 2030, Reuters quoted Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz as saying.

While Israel aims to have solar energy at the heart of its electricity generation strategy over the next decade, the country will look to phase out coal-fired power generation by 2026 – a target generally in line with some Western European economies such as the UK and Italy.

In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, another country has recently pledged increased solar generation capacity to meet domestic demand.

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OPEC member Algeria said last month that it plans to install up to US$3.6 billion worth of solar photovoltaic (PV) projects to produce renewable electricity for export and for meeting increasing domestic power demand.

The solar power facilities are expected to have a combined installed capacity of 4,000 megawatts (MW), the office of Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad said.

The OPEC member, which generates most of its electricity from natural gas, plans to have those solar PV plants installed between 2020 and 2024, the prime minister’s office said. Apart from meeting growing domestic demand and positioning Algeria to export electricity, the new solar projects will help it preserve its oil and gas resources, the Algerian government said.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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