After postponing a vote for two weeks on significant amendments to the current
renewable energy regulations, the cabinet approved on Sunday a set of new
measures that will allow for the investment of over $5.048 billion in future
renewable installations, with 10 percent of these systems designated
specifically for the West Bank.
Within the new regulations, the
government will institute a quota of 460 megawatts for large solar fields, an
additional 110 megawatts for small solar rooftop panels – 20 to be added in
2011, 30 in 2012, 30 in 2013 and 30 in 2014 – as well as 800 megawatts for wind
power and 210 for biofuels, with no new additions to the current 300 megawatts
allotted for medium-sized solar fields. Meanwhile, 10% of each of these caps –
including from the original quota on medium fields – will be allocated
specifically to Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria, in a gesture that a
spokesman for National Infrastructures Minister Dr. Uzi Landau had likened to
“affirmative action” on Thursday.
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“I am proud that the government decided
in favor of committing to the gradual production of energy from clean renewable
sources,” said Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan in a statement.
“The decision will contribute to the reduction of air pollution, to the
reduction of dependence on foreign energy sources, and will develop Israeli
industry and technology, creating thousands of jobs in the
Erdan stressed that the 210 megawatts allocated to biogas and
biomass in particular will advance the ongoing “recycling revolution” and
movement for separation of waste, as it will give local authorities and private
sector the ability to use waste to produce clean energy.
$4m. per megawatt, the total investment in newly allocated solar installations
could amount to $2.28b., and at about $2.2m. per megawatt the total for
wind could reach $1.76b., according to industry figures.
biogas facilities costs approximately $4.8m. per megawatt, according to
October 2010 data from the Public Utility Authority, so the total investments in
the new 210-megawatt allocation could reach $1.008b.
portions dedicated to Judea and Samaria could reach $384m. for solar
(including the 10% shift from the current medium- field quota), $176m. for wind
and $100.8m. for biogas.
In addition to the increased quotas on renewable
energy available for production in commercial venues, the vote approved an
additional 50 megawatts and NIS 10m. for green energy research, as well as the
establishment of an inter-ministerial task team to make sure the government
bodies are pursuing the latest green energy technologies possible, the Prime
Minister’s Office said. The Interior Ministry will also now be required to
remove all statutory barriers that hinder green energy promotion, according to
The newly approved amendments stem from a compromise
brokered by Prof. Eugene Kandel, the prime minister’s chief economic adviser, to
find a middle ground among ministers who have been sparring over the country’s
renewable energy future.
While green activists and innovators praised the
government’s decision to approve the amendments, they reminded officials that
these are only the first steps to achieving a greener future.
decision taken today is an important opening bid. There is still more
work to do, to ensure the full and immediate potential of solar energy is
realized by the State of Israel,” Jon Cohen, CEO of Arava Power Company, told
The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
“This clean, available, immediate, safe
source of electricity, at a price beneficial to the national economy, must be
more aggressively embraced by the government.”
Hila Krupsky, director of
Greenpeace’s energy campaign, added in a statement: “We commend the government
on the decision to increase the production of electricity from clean energy and
environmentally friendly sources. We call upon the government not to stop here.
We will continue to monitor and ensure that public health, safety and protection
of the environment will remain a top priority for the
While the government claimed that these new regulations
would help make electricity powered 10% by renewable sources by 2020 – with
1,550 renewable megawatts by 2014 and 2,760 by 2020 – the Renewable Energy
Association in Israel argued that because consumption rates will be higher by
the year 2020, the country will only actually reach 7% renewables with the
currently mandated quotas. While commending Landau and Erdan on their
“achievement against the Treasury,” the group said that the government is
actually “sabotaging itself in implementing the determined production
Landau, who on Thursday had acknowledged that this plan was
“not perfect,” nonetheless expressed satisfaction that the vote had
“I hope that in this manner the State of Israel has embarked on a
new path, with confidence and certainty in the renewable energy market,” Landau
said in a statement, from a diplomatic mission abroad. “However, the task is not
complete. We will continue to work and promote every green megawatt and help
every entrepreneur. In the year 2020, renewable energy will account for
10% of electricity production.”