Israel authorized a plan to build an energy storage network in urban areas that will generate off-peak electricity and provide “kosher” electricity for ultra-Orthodox Jews keeping the Sabbath.
Globally, there is a growing need for stored energy as a way to utilise solar power at night and to support the transition to electricity-powered transportation.
In Israel, with a new government that has strong religious representation, there is an added interest for ultra-Orthodox communities that strictly observe Jewish law, including restrictions on electricity use on Saturdays, the Jewish Sabbath.
Observant Jews do not turn on electric appliances on Saturdays, though systems like air conditioners or water heaters can be turned on beforehand and run throughout the day.
In some neighbourhoods generators are activated ahead of time and provide electricity for the day, which is expensive, polluting and can be dangerous, Israel’s energy ministry says.
“Storing electrical energy will be one way to allow the expansion of electricity production from renewable energies,” said the ministry. “At the same time, in Israel there are populations interested in consuming ‘kosher electricity’ that was not generated on Sabbath.”
The government approved a pilot – a 24-megawatt battery facility – to store excess power from peak production times that will be drawn on by some 3,000 households in the city of Bnei Barak, an ultra-Orthodox enclave in central Israel.
It will be built by state-owned Israel Electric Corp for up to 120 million shekels ($33 million) and privatised after three years. If successful, hundreds of megawatts in storage facilities will be built nationwide, the ministry said, without giving a timeframe.