Despite the influx of natural gas from the Tamar reservoir, the country is still likely to face an alarmingly low electricity reserve this summer, similar to that of last year, Israel Electric Corporation CEO and president Eli Glickman said on Wednesday.

Glickman was speaking to reporters at a company press conference and tour of the coal-fired Orot Rabin Power Station in Hadera that morning.

Last summer, the peak demand occurred on July 19 at 11,920 megawatts, and the entire summer there was between a 1-percent and 3% reserve – percentages Glickman said he expected to remain the same this summer.

While so many of the power plants that do exist have been converted from coal to natural gas operations, the production potential of the existing infrastructure is still insufficient to create an ample summer reserve, the CEO explained. This is expected to change as more private power producers come online and feed into the national grid.

Renovations at the IEC’s 400-MW Gezer power station should be completed by July, as should work at the 440-MW private power station OPC Rotem, located near Dimona, Glickman estimated. Due to the introduction of these additional production facilities, he said the reserve could potentially rise that month to between 5% and 8%, but he feared that the OPC station could face infancy issues as it begins operations.

It is possible, however, that a few of the turbines at the eventually 812- MW Dorad private power facility in Ashkelon will be ready in August, Glickman said.

While in 2010, the country’s electricity composition was 61% from coal, 36.5% from natural gas, 2.4% from fuel oil and 0.1% from private power producers. Glickman said he expected the 2014 numbers, in contrast, to be 38% coal, 61.5% natural gas from IEC and private power producers, and 0.5% diesel and fuel oil.

Although the government has set a target of generating 10% of the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020, Glickman predicted that the more realistic achievement for that year would be between 5% and 7%.

IEC senior executive vice president Yakov (Yasha) Hain noted that those numbers could have been higher if the government had allowed the IEC to build solar power plants of its own.

As private power producers move into the country, the IEC – which is already some NIS 70 billion in debt – expects to lose 50% of its hold on the country’s power generation market, Hain said.

“We have to find out how to increase the income and how to compensate the lost market,” he said.

Because in Israel the company is only losing money, the IEC is already in the process of strengthening its presence in the international market, according to Hain. For example, the company is working on an Angolan project with another Israeli partner, and has made a bid on a 500-MW coal program in West Bengal, India, he said.

The IEC is providing transmission systems to an energy facility in Albania, is taking part in an energy efficiency program in Moscow, and will be entering the Italian market as the integrator on a 10-MW photovoltaic project, he continued.

Also attractive to the IEC is a photovoltaic project in Inner Mongolia with Chinese partners, which was initially frozen but is being opened up to bidders again, he said.

Closer to home, the IEC is taking part in a 40 million euro project with the European Union to construct four new substations for the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, a project that should be concluded within two years, Glickman said.

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