Israel crawls toward green power future with proposed renewable energy law

Currently, only 2.6 percent of Israel's electricity is produced from renewable sources.

Solar panels (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Solar panels
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
A renewable energy law could be in the works after the Knesset’s Finance Committee met on Wednesday to discuss the basics before bringing it for an initial reading in the plenum.
One of the points that bothered some present was that the legislation, sponsored by MK Eitan Broshi (Zionist Union), would not spell out clean power targets, but rather leave them up to a subsequent cabinet decision. It would require, however, the National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Ministry to uphold whatever decision the government makes.
Zionist Union MK Yael Cohen Paran was among those who slammed the idea of leaving renewable energy targets up in the air.
Cohen Paran noted that on that same Wednesday morning, the Israel Electric Corporation decided to continue using polluting coal power for an additional 25 years. “The IEC must be part of this revolution and only then will 40 or 50 percent of our power come from renewable energy,” she said.
Shaul Meridor, director-general of the ministry, responded to Cohen Paran that approval was given for the continued use of coal to generate electricity out of energy security and supply considerations.
Yuval Zohar, head of renewable energies at the Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources Ministry, told the committee that currently, only 2.6 percent of the nation’s electricity is produced from renewable sources.
The ministry aims, he said, for that figure to stand at 10% by 2020 and 17% by 2030. He added that there is a quota for private producers to generate 3,000 megawatts of electricity from renewable sources, and for the IEC to buy the power, but only 800 megawatts are being produced.
Meridor said that Israel is backward compared to the rest of the modern world in terms of power production. “[Although] we have less water and wind resources, we were blessed with sunshine, yet haven’t even begun to take advantage of its potential,” he said. Though he praised this proposed legislation, he said there are many roadblocks ahead of it.
According to Asi Levinger, CEO of the Ramat Gan-based renewable energy company Energix Group, Europe invested $328 billion in renewable energy sources in 2015, “3.5 times the entire budget of Israel,” and 44% of power plants built on the continent in the past year used renewable energy. “Worldwide, this is the accepted way to produce energy,” he said. “Meanwhile, we are stuck behind every obstacle possible.”