C'tee moves renewable energy from wind to solar

Committee on renewable energy shifts 300 megawatts development quota from wind energy to solar energy.

December 2, 2012 23:35
3 minute read.
A solar farm [illustrative]

Solar panels 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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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 Landau.

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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 Sunday.

“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 said.

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 ministry.

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 sun.

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 decision.

The approval, Hareli said, is “likely to be interpreted as a decision to cancel the entire wind industry.”

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