Conservation efforts help country avoid blackouts

Electricity level reaches critical ‘orange’ stage yesterday, then settles at ‘yellow.’

Electricity lines 390 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Electricity lines 390
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
With public efforts to curb use of gas-guzzling devices during peak afternoon electricity hours, the Israel Electric Corporation has thus far been able to narrowly avoid the situation where power demand exceeds the reserve available, during the ongoing heat wave.
Because the electricity demand level was expected to reach about 11,250 on Monday afternoon, and production capacity is only about 11,590 megawatts – leaving a reserve of just 250 megawatts – the IEC once again asked the public that morning to cease using high-consuming electrical appliances during the morning. Such conservation the day before had allowed the country to save 340 megawatts of electricity.
The IEC encouraged the continuation of such efforts between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m., as well as the proper backup of all essential electronic devices.
“The IEC appreciates and values the public’s response, which reflects an understanding and devotion to the crisis,” the company said. “IEC will continue to make every effort in order to supply its customers with all of their electricity demands, and thanks the public for the understanding, responsiveness and cooperation.”
If even one of the country’s power plants fails during the heat wave’s peak hours, local blackouts could occur for short periods of time, dispersed throughout the country, the IEC explained. Despite unexpected outages caused by the temporary failure of the Rotenberg power plant on Thursday, the forced power outages that the IEC had expected to need to implement during the heat wave have not yet occurred.
As of 11 a.m. on Monday, the electricity situation had met the critical “orange” level, which indicates that the “extent of the demand is almost reaching the electricity production limit and power outages are likely to occur.”
In the mid afternoon, the power level had settled at “yellow,” which shows that the extent of the demand is approaching the limit of electricity production capabilities, and that the company is attempting to balance out the system.
An optimal system is one at level “green,” which would indicate that the supply is operating steadily and normally.
Throughout the day, and throughout the heat wave over the past five days, the power levels have not yet touched level “red,” which would mean that electricity demand was higher than electricity production capability, leading to power outages.
During a meeting of the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee the same day, committee chair MK Amnon Cohen (Shas) praised the public’s conservation efforts but meanwhile stressed that government decisions toward increasing renewable energy sources had been supposed to provide power reserves.
“The Israeli government is not meeting its objectives in the field of renewable energy,” Cohen said.
Despite making commitments toward powering 5 percent of Israel’s electricity supply with renewable sources by 2014 and 10% by 2020, by the end of 2011, less than half a percent of the country’s electricity came from renewable, Cohen said.
While many private citizens would like to erect photovoltaic systems, sufficient quotas for their construction do not exist, he added.
To this, Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau said that while the government has set many renewable energy targets, it has not set necessary plans, regulations or budgets and still therefore faces many obstacles toward the industry’s propagation.
Landau called upon the committee to continue monitoring the status of the country’s renewable energy industry.
Eitan Parness, head of the Renewable Energy Association of Israel, meanwhile said that “for already four years the Israeli government is proving that it has no interest in renewable energies.
“I call upon the Energy and Water Ministry to intervene against attempts to block solar energy,” Parness said. “Israel must ask itself who is wrong here on a wide scale – if all Western countries, which are commencing long-term plans for renewable energy, or Israel, which stops solar energy, is in the wrong.”