nuclear power plant 224.
(photo credit: AP)
National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau said
Sunday he had recently raised the idea of collaborating with Jordan
on a nuclear power plant with French Environment Minister Jean-Louis
Borloo at a recent meeting. Borloo said he would bring up
the notion in conversation with French President Nicolas Sarkozy,
Landua said during a press conference on renewable energy at the
ministry on Sunday.
Jordan has announced that it has begun environmental
impact assessments ahead of building a plant near Akaba in the south.
France is a world leader in nuclear power and has
garnered a vast wealth of technical knowhow. Eighty percent of French
electricity is produced by nuclear power plants. Israel has ruled out
nuclear power plants until now because of its undeclared nuclear
weapons state status. Building a plant would mean that Israel would
have to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and throw
open its Dimona reactor to international inspections, something it
has been reluctant to do.
During the press conference ahead of the Eilat-Eilot
International Renewable Energy Conference to be held in mid-February,
Landau also floated another regional power generation collaborative
"Egypt could provide land in Sinai, Israel could
provide the technology and a US or European entrepreneur could build
a solar power plant. We are certainly not lacking in ideas,"
Landau said. Landau seemed to indicate that this was a potential
initiative rather than one which his ministry was actively pursuing.
Both Landau and ministry Chief Scientist Shlomo Wald
quantified the goal of 10% of energy from renewable sources by 2020
as "ambitious, but doable."
Wald said they would rely on proven technologies such
as solar-thermal in the initial phase to create installed megawatts
at the Ashelim and Timna sites in the Negev. However, he said
the ministry was also actively supporting next generation
technologies like concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) and new
Ministry Dir.-Gen. Shaul Tzemach said the ministry was
in favor of bringing electric cars to Israel and would support any
initiative to do so and not just Shai Agassi's Better Place. He said
Agassi's company would receive a special license and the smart grid
capacity so that the charging network would not overburden Israel's
already stressed to the limit national grid.
Regarding the necessity for another coal-fired power
plant in Ashkelon, Landau said it was "irresponsible" to
base 70% of the country's energy needs on natural gas. Coal was still
the baseline fuel because it was the most reliable in comparison to
natural gas and renewables. He pointed out, however, that Israel's
goal of 40% of electricity from natural gas was significantly higher
than European countries who had budgeted just 25%.
Moreover, he argued, by the time the power station was
built in another three to four years, it would be built with the
latest pollution reducing technologies. Furthermore, building the new
plant would enable the Israel Electric Corporation to take the eight
older coal-fired power plants offline for six to seven months to
retrofit them with new filters to reduce pollution. He cited a cost
of $2b. for the retrofit project.
"At the end of the process, the situation will be
dramatically better for Ashkelon residents and all of the citizens of
Israel," Landau declared.