(photo credit: Ahikam Seri/Bloomberg)
National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau (Israel Beiteinu) will put a proposal before the cabinet on Sunday removing obstacles to building the Project D power station in Ashkelon and creating an energy efficiency fund, his ministry said Monday.
With the discovery of the “Leviathan” natural gas field off Haifa, Landau asked the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) whether the planned coal-fired power plant in Ashkelon could be built to run on natural gas and use coal as a backup. Having received IEC confirmation of that feasibility, Landau will ask the cabinet to allow authorization for the plant to go forward.
In order to ensure that the country has enough electricity, the proposal calls for Project D to be completed as a coal-fired power plant by 2015. At the same time, it will be constructed with natural gas capability, and switch over completely by 2017. Coal would remain a backup fuel in the event of a malfunction. The proposal also calls for older coal-fired power plants to be converted to run on natural gas. Most fuel oil power plants were phased out in the current decade and converted to run on natural gas.
The proposal also calls for replacing up to 30 percent of the coal with bio-mass, which would reduce the pollution and CO2 produced.
Landau would also like to build a ‘virtual power plant” by investing in energy efficiency. The ministry recently unveiled a national plan that includes the goal of a 20% reduction in electricity demand by 2020. Demand grows by about 4% per year right now. The proposal requests authorization for an energy efficiency fund. The money would come from a 1% increase in electricity prices, but would also provide funding to enable companies and others to reduce their use.
Landau would also like the cabinet to restore his authority to order the
IEC to build power plants. The IEC has been blocked by regulations from
building any more such facilities. Landau said it was a necessary
authority to prevent emergencies.
Electricity reserves are critically low and are cause for great concern
at the ministry and at the IEC. Hotter-than-usual days lead to a flurry
of requests to the public to delay electricity use until the evening for
fear of midday blackouts.