IEC may add fuel-oil at Reading amid shortages

Polluting fossil fuel may be introduced at Tel Aviv power station due to lack of natural gas.

March 23, 2012 03:32
2 minute read.
HAGIT POWER station workers renovate the plant

Hagit power station 370. (photo credit: Yossi Weiss)


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Due to the country’s looming natural gas shortages, the Israel Electric Corporation is considering renovating its Reading power station in Tel Aviv so that it can also operate on mazut heavy fuel oil.

Reading is Israel’s only power station that does not yet have the ability to run on dual fuel sources, according to Iris Ben-Shahal, deputy spokeswoman for the IEC.

The IEC is struggling to find ways to power the nation this summer. The corporation is only receiving 30 percent of what it should be receiving from the Yam Tethys reservoir and the gas supply from Egypt completely ceased, Ben-Shahal told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

“There is not enough gas to produce electricity,” she said. “We are trying to do all our best so we can produce enough electricity for our citizens.”

One potential solution to keep Reading up-and-running during the summer peak hours is to add a heavy fuel oil base to its electricity production capabilities, even though it is a polluting fossil fuel.

“We are trying to figure out if it’s possible to produce electricity from mazut,” she said.

Such a transformation will only be possible with a series of statutory approvals – which include agreements from the Tel Aviv Municipality, the Environmental Protection Ministry and the Igudan: Dan Regional Association for Environmental Infrastructure. Due to the environmental ramifications of using more mazut, Ben-Shahal predicts, however, that “it’s not going to be tomorrow if at all” when the IEC will receive such approvals.

Even if the authorizations come in, the plant cannot run on mazut immediately, as the company needs to install machines that can process the heavy fuel oil at Reading – a setup that will take around four months, according to Ben-Shahal.

“Our mission is to supply electricity for all the people who want that,” she added. “But we know there are some environmental prices.”

The IEC announced on Wednesday that its workers are now conducting extensive renovations on its production units all over Israel to enable the electricity sector to transition properly to the summer season, during which electricity outages are expected.

In light of the natural gas shortage, which has brought about increased wear on production units, renovating the power plants this year is more necessary than ever, according to the IEC. Work to refurbish the plants began in March and will continue toward the middle of June, as this “transition season” is a period with very low power needs, with an approximate demand of only 2,500 megawatts, the company explained.

The IEC is spending a total of NIS 274 million on the renovations. During recent summers, electricity needs have risen to more than 11,000 megawatts.

The electricity market must take advantage of the spring weather to make sure proper renovation work occurs, according to IEC CEO Eli Glickman.

“In the current state of the electricity sector, any failure or disruption to production units is likely to cause difficulties in fulfilling electricity demands, also extreme changes in weather, like unexpected heat waves, are liable to bring the electric company to a situation where it is unable to supply all of the electricity demands,” Glickman said in a statement released by his office. “We are at the bottom line of our production reserves.”

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