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.

nuclear power plant 224 (photo credit: AP)
nuclear power plant 224
(photo credit: AP)

National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau saidSunday he had recently raised the idea of collaborating with Jordanon a nuclear power plant with French Environment Minister Jean-LouisBorloo at a recent meeting. Borloo said he would bring upthe notion in conversation with French President Nicolas Sarkozy,Landua said during a press conference on renewable energy at theministry on Sunday.

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

 France is a world leader in nuclear power and hasgarnered a vast wealth of technical knowhow. Eighty percent of Frenchelectricity is produced by nuclear power plants. Israel has ruled outnuclear power plants until now because of its undeclared nuclearweapons state status. Building a plant would mean that Israel wouldhave to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and throwopen its Dimona reactor to international inspections, something ithas been reluctant to do.

During the press conference ahead of the Eilat-EilotInternational Renewable Energy Conference to be held in mid-February,Landau also floated another regional power generation collaborativeproject idea.

"Egypt could provide land in Sinai, Israel couldprovide the technology and a US or European entrepreneur could builda solar power plant. We are certainly not lacking in ideas,"Landau said. Landau seemed to indicate that this was a potentialinitiative rather than one which his ministry was actively pursuing.

Both Landau and ministry Chief Scientist Shlomo Waldquantified the goal of 10% of energy from renewable sources by 2020as "ambitious, but doable."

Wald said they would rely on proven technologies suchas solar-thermal in the initial phase to create installed megawattsat the Ashelim and Timna sites in the Negev.  However, he saidthe ministry was also actively supporting next generationtechnologies like concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) and newsolar-thermal applications.

Ministry Dir.-Gen. Shaul Tzemach said the ministry wasin favor of bringing electric cars to Israel and would support anyinitiative to do so and not just Shai Agassi's Better Place. He saidAgassi's company would receive a special license and the smart gridcapacity so that the charging network would not overburden Israel'salready stressed to the limit national grid.

Regarding the necessity for another coal-fired powerplant in Ashkelon, Landau said it was "irresponsible" tobase 70% of the country's energy needs on natural gas. Coal was stillthe baseline fuel because it was the most reliable in comparison tonatural gas and renewables. He pointed out, however, that Israel'sgoal of 40% of electricity from natural gas was significantly higherthan European countries who had budgeted just 25%.

Moreover, he argued, by the time the power station wasbuilt in another three to four years, it would be built with thelatest pollution reducing technologies. Furthermore, building the newplant would enable the Israel Electric Corporation to take the eightolder coal-fired power plants offline for six to seven months toretrofit them with new filters to reduce pollution. He cited a costof $2b. for the retrofit project.

"At the end of the process, the situation will bedramatically better for Ashkelon residents and all of the citizens ofIsrael," Landau declared.