Solar panels 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A 300-megawatt quota for renewable energy development will move from the wind
energy sector to that of solar power, following a meeting of the Ministerial
Committee for Promoting Renewable Energy on Sunday.
Not only will this
decision facilitate the state’s achievements of its renewable energy production
targets for 2015 and 2020, it will also provide room for development of solar
facilities in Judea and Samaria, according to Energy and Water Minister Uzi
The decision to shift the 300 megawatts was one portion of a
proposal issued by Landau in early November regarding the country’s 2015
renewable energy targets. Originally planning to hold the meeting on November
13, the ministers postponed the session due to a request from the Finance
Ministry, which went on to file an appeal on the committee’s decision on
“The resolution approved today is an important step for the
supporters of renewable energy in the state,” Landau said. “The drastic decline
in solar tariffs will enable Israeli citizens to enjoy cleaner and cheaper
electricity and come closer to meeting the 10 percent production target for
electricity from renewable energy by 2020.”
In addition to approving the
300- megawatt move, the committee also authorized Landau’s proposal to promote
the installation of solar facilities in West Bank settlements, according to the
Energy and Water Ministry.
“This is a reasonable and balanced decision
that will advance the adherence to government targets for the years 2015 and
2020, and will do justice for the entrepreneurs in Judea and Samaria who suffer
from a continuing injustice and damage to a basic human right,” Landau
According to the ministry’s estimates, the country is now set to
meet 92% of its original renewable energy targets for 2015, which the government
formulated in a 2009 decision.
By adding more solar to the energy mix,
the ministry expressed hopes that Israel will have a realistic chance of
achieving the 10% renewable goal for the year 2020.
The committee on
Sunday also authorized a number of other measures, such as a the advancement of
Israel’s biogas facilities and the transfer of Environmental Protection Ministry
funds for that purpose. The committee likewise approved plans to push the
Defense Ministry to approve more wind energy turbines, as the office’s refusal
to do so has thus far impeded much of the industry’s development. A third issue
agreed upon at the meeting was the need to establish power facilities that can
enable people to monitor power in the homes, through a “net meter,” by the year
2013, according to the Energy and Water Ministry.
“This is a historic
decision that will change the face of the modern energy sector in Israel and
will replace polluting electricity production with green energy,” Eitan Parnass,
head of the Renewable Energy Association of Israel said.
In response, the
Finance Ministry said that the transfer of 300 megawatts from wind to solar
would cost the economy an additional NIS 130 million. Because the resolution was
approved by the committee, Steinitz intends to appeal the decision, in order
prevent an increase in electricity rates to the consumer, according to the
While praising the decisions of the committee, Parnass slammed
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz for continually attempting to “block the
[renewable] industry” in Israel in favor of natural gas production. He called
for an official parliamentary inquiry into the subject during the beginning of
the next Knesset.
Not everyone in the renewable energy field is happy
with Landau’s move to shuffle the wind and solar energy quotas. In particular,
wind energy professionals have expressed deep dissatisfaction in the decision,
accusing the government of burying the wind industry in favor of the
The 300 megawatts eliminated constitute more than a third of the
quota currently allocated to wind energy development, and many entrepreneurs
have signed binding financial agreements in the field, wrote Gadi Hareli, CEO of
the Israeli Wind Energy Association, in a letter to the committee prior to the
The approval, Hareli said, is “likely to be interpreted as a
decision to cancel the entire wind industry.”