Eilat is the most southern city in Israel, located amidst a sprawling desert where during the summer, temperatures rise to over 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). It is home to 66,000 residents spread over an area of 85 square km. The city’s main income source depends on tourism with 3 million tourist visiting each year. The city has an abundance of tourist attractions, restaurants and hotels. These factors create a considerable demand for electricity and the Israeli electricity company have found it difficult to cope considering the geographical distance.
The Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative had already driven forward clean energy production, mostly from solar facilities (as sun is the most available resource in the desert) in such amounts that during day time, despite being the highest electricity demand period, the city is still powered with between 70% to 100% from clean renewable sources.
Unfortunately, renewable energy has its inherit limitations. During evening hours’ solar production decreases and completely halts during the night. And while winters are not long and harsh, they exist and may be cloudy for a few months’ time. During these times, the city of Eilat still relies on conventional, fuel based electricity. For this reason, Eilat-Eilot are pushing forward the establishment of small and medium storage systems based on pumped storage technology. These technologies are necessary as complimentary solutions along with energy efficiency plans. Together these can bring Eilat to be a 100% clean energy city 24/7.
Simultaneously, in order for Eilat to be free of CO2 emissions, the city must implement solutions for clean transportation. Especially as a tourism city with a hefty need for taxis and public transportation.
The vision: A smart, clean city with an efficient network, and digital services at maximum simplicity for the end user. From this vision, and with the push of Eilat city officials, Eilat has declared a variety of projects that will transform the city into a technology hub for implementing and testing energy saving solutions.
Eilat's Energy Efficiency Projects
The neighborhood pilot project has the main goal to reduce and monitor energy consumption within a defined area, while upgrading existing infrastructure.
This project is taking the “community” approach. In this method education and marketing are applied to encourage the local residents to be part of the project, get to know each other and city officials, and creating a strong communal connection.
The city is looking at the neighborhood as a holistic unit, thus creating a model that can be replicated in other neighborhoods in the city, and in other cities as well.
The chosen neighborhood for the pilot is Mitzpe Yam Neighborhood. In Mitzpe Yam there are 3,800 residents in 900 households. 500 Streetlights, 6 Kindergartens, 1 Primary School, 1 Synagogue and 1 Park.
In these facilities, the city will incorporate a variety of technologies, working together and complementing each other.
Waste Management: Eilat is assimilating a smart waste collection system to improve the services and logistics of the waste systems.
Communications: Eilat has assimilated a free WIFI network for all of the visitors and citizens in the City.
Lighting: All street lights are being replaced to economical led lighting.
Education: Raising the awareness for energy consumption, Environmental education activities with the local school.
Energy Management: In Mitzpe Yam Eilat had installed an advanced energy management system that creates real-time data and future demand prediction.
The green neighborhood pilot is supported through the generous support of the European Union.
Eilat’s environmental education vision is to inspire behavioral changes amongst Eilat students and teachers, by adapting new pedagogical methods such as location based learning and hands-on projects with a sustainable perspective.
Eilat is forming a new educational approach where students can present dilemmas and issues as they experience them, and then discuss and develop environmental friendly sustainable solutions.
As Eilat has the highest sun days in Israel, a large part of being a green city involves assessing its PV potential. The city had partnered with SolView company (an Israeli start-up incubated and developed in Capital Nature and Eilat-Eilot) have developed a cutting edge technology for image analysis to detect the solar parameters of rooftops from standard aerial imagery. The technology performs data fusion with weather information and financial databases to provide an overall assessment of the solar potential and financial data on ROI and energy cost saving.
Installing a shared micro-grid between Eilat and Aqaba (The Jordanian neighboring city) will enable the connection and disconnection of Eilat from the Israeli national grid by using scattered power stations and power trading in real time. Currently the project is in its first steps of assessment and management of energy consumption. The benefits of a micro-grid will reduce electricity lost by 7-10% due to shorter transference , and will contribute towards the regions energetic security, reduce electricity costs (and as a result reduce tariff’s to the end consumer) and reduce carbon emissions in the region.
הThe city of Eilat aspires to incorporate electric transportation solutions into the city along with some degree of gas powered vehicles. Working together with the Israeli Ministry of Transportation and the national fuel choice initiative, the city plans to deploy a pilot project, to assess the economic feasibility of converting city taxis to electric powered taxis.
Support for ‘Eilat Smart Solar City’ project is part of the city’s commitment to the - covenant of mayors for climate and energy. This covenant brings together local and regional authorities voluntarily committing to implementing the EU’s climate and energy objectives on their territory.
So far the covenant has been signed by more than 6,800 regional leaders, and this number is updated daily in the official covenant website. Among the signatory is of course Mr. Meir Yitzhak Halevi, Eilat’s mayor.
Working under the covenant of the mayors agreement, means Eilat is executing all energy efficiency projects under international standards.
Additionally, Eilat is currently working in cooperation with Ben-Gurion university to produce emissions reports which will be used as a base level of reference to all upcoming efficiency projects and emissions measurements. The goal of this work is to analyze the highest carbon polluted areas of the city, detect realistic emission reduction goals, all while keeping in mind the long term goal of a 100% emissions free city.