Israel: The World’s first Solar Thermal Legislation

Israel has been the first country to pass a legislation on solar thermal installations. With the second oil crisis end of the 1970s members of parliament searched for ways to make their country more independent of imported energy. The result was a law on solar water heating to be used in new residential buildings up to 27 metres. The legislation came into effect in 1980.

It turned out to be a success. Nowadays more than 80% of the households in Israel obtain their domestic hot water from solar rooftop heaters. A typical domestic unit consists of a 150 litre insulated storage tank and a 2 m2 collector. Payback-time is about 2.5 years for an average family of four people. There is no subsidy on the purchase of the system.

More than 90% of the solar systems are installed on a voluntary basis, i.e. they are installed in existing buildings, or the systems are bigger than required by the obligation. “Israelis consider this basic ‘furniture’ and not unique”, says Shoshana Dann from the Ben-Gurion National Solar Energy Center. The hot water heaters save the country the need to import about 4% of its energy needs, and displace about 9% of the electricity production.

This article was written by Ina Röpcke, a German journalist and solar thermal expert







Solar building law



To reduce the country’s dependency on imported energy


Date when law came into effect



Target group


The legislation applies to all new buildings, except buildings used for industrial or trade purposes, hospitals and buildings higher than 27 metres.



Special requirements


Ordinary residential buildings:

The obligation is defined in terms of daily solar energy output per litre of storage tank capacity: 172 kilojoules for open loop systems, and 192 kilojoules for closed loop systems.

The tank capacity depends on the number of rooms in each residential unit: at least 60 litres for one-room-apartments, at least 120 litres for two- or three-room-apartments, and at least 150 litres for larger ones. 


Hotels, guest houses, boarding schools, elderly homes and similar buildings:

In this case the obligation is based on the daily solar output per litre of hot water consumption: 126 for open and 142 for closed loop systems.


Last review


28 November, 2008

Further information





BenGurionUniversity of the Negev
84990 Sede Boqer Campus
Phone: +972 8 6596934
Fax: +972 8 6596736





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