Israel, France discuss joint nuclear power project with Jord

Jordan has announced that it has begun environmental impact assessments ahead of building a plant near Akaba in the south.

January 31, 2010 23:51
2 minute read.
Israel, France discuss joint nuclear power project with Jord

nuclear power plant 224. (photo credit: AP)


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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 project idea.

"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 solar-thermal applications.

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.

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