The cabinet will vote Sunday on a proposal to allocate over $524 million worth
of potential renewable energy investments to Israelis in the West Bank as part
of an effort to revamp the country’s green energy policies.
RELATED:Future solar installations could be shifted to West Bank Burned by red tape, Israeli solar firm to build in Italy GE awards Israeli startup $100,000 ‘Ecomagination’ grant
previously told The Jerusalem Post that the latest set of regulations would only
shift 10 percent of the medium-sized solar field quotas to Judea and Samaria, a
draft proposal distributed by the National Infrastructures Ministry on Thursday
revealed that the amendments up for a vote would actually move 10% of the entire
renewable energy quota.
The proposal for the entire country includes a
quota of 460 megawatts for large fields, which “will emancipate the market from
the stagnation that the Finance Ministry has forced upon us,” the National
Infrastructures Ministry said in a statement.
Also included are 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, according to the document, a collaboration between the National
Infrastructures and Environmental Protection ministries. These would all be
added to the existing 300 megawatts allotted for medium-sized fields.
percent of each of these caps would be allocated specifically to Judea and
Samaria, according to the Infrastructures Ministry. The proposal stems 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.
At approximately $4m. per megawatt,
the total investment in West Bank solar installations could reach $384m., and at
about $2.2m. per megawatt the total for wind could reach $176m., according to industry
Biogas numbers are much more difficult to estimate as
installations have not been widely use, sources said, and the Public Utility
Authority could not be reached for exact data.
“There [in Judea and
Samaria] these guys were deprived from their rights and they deserve the same
rights as anybody else in this country.
It’s affirmative action,” a
spokesman for National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau told the Post
Thursday. “It’s not an issue of right or wrong. It’s an issue of basic human
Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan
“There doesn’t need to be any discrimination between the
residents of Judea and Samaria and the rest of the country’s residents. They’re
now receiving the chance to join in the environmental turnaround and to create
energy without harming the environment.”
Anyone with Israeli citizenship
– Jew or Arab or anything else – would be allowed to make use of the quotas,
should the vote pass, Landau’s spokesman said.
But Hanna Siniora, co-CEO
of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, and a resident of
east Jerusalem, said the fact that Palestinians without Israeli citizenship
would not have access to these same quotas was unjust.
disenfranchised,” he told the Post
. “We have 300,000 Palestinians living in east
Jerusalem and only 10,000 have Israeli citizenship. Most of the activity will
probably be in Area C of the West Bank [under full Israeli control], and none of
them [there] have Israeli citizenship except the settlers.”
east Jerusalem, there are no Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, Siniora
“All of us buy electricity from Israel, so the Palestinians of the
West Bank are subsidizing the settlements this way, and that is not only unfair,
but it’s also really inaccessible,” he said.
Eitan Parness, chairman of
the Renewable Energy Association in Israel and head of the Association of Solar
Energy Companies, said that while he has no objections to allotting specific
amounts of megawatts to the West Bank, it should not be subtracted from the
quotas for the rest of the country.
“The logic is quite understandable
because to those people who live in West Bank, they are paying for renewables,
but they don’t have an equal opportunity to use them, so it makes sense. But
again I’m in favor of adding quotas,” he told the Post
Parness said that
with the amount allotted in this proposal, the country will only reach around
6.5% of energy from renewable sources by 2020, falling 3.5 percentage points
short of its goal.
“So the government is pulling a trick on us,” he
Meanwhile, members of the solar industry displayed mixed feelings
about the proposal due to the idea that medium-sized solar fields would receive
no additional quotas.
“If the government of Israel were to make the
correct and decisive statement that they would be continuing the solar program
under the conditions that solar electricity will benefit the national economy
above its costs, then developers would continue to invest in over 1,000
megawatts of projects within the medium-field regulations,” Arava Power Company
CEO Jon Cohen told the Post
. “Solar tariffs will come down drastically in the
Solar energy can reduce the national price of electricity,
while offering numerous additional and accepted benefits. It is a terrible error
not to ensure that these additional 1,000 megawatts be deployed.”
Abramowitz, president of the company, said the consumer would get the most
benefit from an increased quota for medium fields, and blamed the Finance
Ministry for blocking any increase.
“The emperor – the prime minister in
this case – is naked and it’s the Finance Ministry that took away his clothing,”
Abramowitz told the Post
“You can go for this compromise, but you will
still face the wrath of the Israeli public as electricity prices
The proposal before the cabinet also includes 50 additional
megawatts and NIS 10m. for renewable energy researchers, as well as an
instruction to the Israel Electric Corporation to pursue the latest green energy
technologies through an internal task team. In addition, the Interior Ministry
would be required to remove all statutory barriers that hinder green energy
promotion, the document said.
“Part of the [Infrastructures] Ministry’s
plan for 2020 is a full and comprehensive program that includes balances between
different technologies of renewable energy, to make Israel into a science lab –
having research and development in Israel,” the spokesman for Landau
Unrelated to the proposal up for vote, the spokesman for the
minister told the Post
that soon, tariffs on electricity from solar sources will
be significantly lower, out of fairness to the consumer and a desire to attract
efficient companies to the business.
“Our goal is to lower the tariffs
gradually in order to ensure that the most efficient companies only will get
into this business,” the minister’s spokesman said, stressing his desire for
consumers to enjoy the benefits of renewable energy at the fairest price
As far as Sunday’s proposal goes, however, the minister
stressed that it was the optimal solution.
“This decision is not perfect,
but it is the best that we could reach, with the agreement and active
cooperation of most of the relevant ministries, ensuring the immediate revival
of the renewable energy market from a freeze,” Landau said in a
“I place great value on the ability of the industry to
instantly add more megawatts to the existing electricity market, which is facing
a drought. When I entered my current position I declared my dream of
turning the red roof into the vision of the green roof, and I intend to make
every effort to realize this.”
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>