Israel will move into a coal-free era of power production by the end of 2025, five years earlier than originally targeted, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz announced on Tuesday.The use of coal for electricity production has been increasingly replaced by natural gas in recent years, with the Energy Ministry previously targeting the total elimination of coal by 2030. Since 2015, electricity production from coal has been halved, according to the ministry.“The Ministry of Energy, under my leadership, has been leading a new policy in recent years to wean Israel off of polluting fuels, and encourage the use of natural gas and renewable energy,” Steinitz said. “Together with the expected connection of the Leviathan gas reservoir in the coming weeks and the increase in renewable energy quotas for electricity production, it will be possible to shorten the timetable for replacing coal at coal-fired power plants with natural gas, and to bring the State of Israel’s coal era to an end. This decision is very significant, first and foremost in order to reduce air pollution for us all.”The ministry’s updated coal elimination target will require the conversion of the power plant in Ashkelon from coal to natural gas by 2024, and the conversion of two coal-fired electricity production units at Hadera’s Orot Rabin plant to gas power by the end of 2025.An earlier decision to shut four coal-fired production units in Hadera by 2022 has already been approved by the government.The conversion of the power plants will be carried out gradually, the ministry said, in order to ensure reliable electricity supply. The target is also conditional on reaching a suitable agreement to supply gas to the converted production units.