Whenever I spend some time on the Golan I am struck by its quiet expansiveness (compared to other parts of Israel). This time over the Passover holiday it was especially beautiful, everything was so green and the fields were covered with early wheat and wildflowers, poppy, lupine, asphodel, daisy, mustard, clover and some I had never seen.
The Golan trail is a 130km trail that snakes along from Mount Hermon in the north at an altitude of 1500 meters above sea level to the Taufik spring above Hamat Gader. I went up to hike 3 days of the Golan Trail from Har Bental to Alonei HaBashan and from there to Faraj intersection. On the first day we could see the snow-capped Hermon to the north and the Sea of Galilee below us to the south.
Unfortunately the third day to Nahal Daliyot and Rujm el-Hiri was cancelled due to inclement weather. These couple of days hiking were the closing parenthesis of the 8 days I hiked from Eilat in March.
The Golan Trail goes by and then climbs a hill, the Bashan ridge on which 10 wind turbines, 30 meters high were installed in 1992. When I went by only 5 were working, producing about 3 megawatts of electricity that is used by the Mey Eden and Golan Heights winery and some 20,000 residents of the Golan in 32 settlements.
Plans have been in place for 150 new, larger wind turbines to be installed over an area of 140 square kilometers of the northern Golan that would cost about $500 million and produce 400 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the entire eastern Galilee. A company has been established to build a wind farm in the northern Golan, in the valley known as the Vale of Tears with investments in place amounting to some $120 million. The Golan has some of the strongest levels of wind energy in the entire region but there are problems. One is that such a large number of tall (80 meters high) wind turbines could be hazardous to the migratory birds that pass over the Golan in the thousands. Also, photovoltaic panels have become more efficient and less expensive. Individuals and companies can install the panels and the electric company buys the electricity generated at 4 times the current rate. So far, some 150 photovoltaic systems have been installed generating 7 megawatts of electricity with another 200 installations approved.