Israel Wind Energy Association slams gov't behavior toward wind sector

CEO of IsraWEA criticizes gov't decisions regarding wind farms and slashing wind sector quotas.

Hiker walks past wind turbines in the Golan Heights_390 (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)
Hiker walks past wind turbines in the Golan Heights_390
(photo credit: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)
Ahead of a planning decision expected next week, the Israel Wind Energy Association sharply criticized recent governmental activities related to the industry.
In a letter distributed to IsraWEA members on Wednesday, Gadi Hareli, co-founder and CEO of the organization, critiqued the work of an interministerial team tasked with determining which proposed wind farms would be feasible. He also slammed the idea that the Energy, Water and National Infrastructure Ministry may be considering slashing one-eighth of the wind sector’s generation quota.
The interministerial team that has been reviewing topographic effects of establishing wind farms recently submitted its recommendations to the National Council for Planning and Building, which will likely approve the proposals next week, Hareli explained. The team examined 160 applications for the construction of large wind farms, and recommended proceeding with 34 of them, totaling between 500 and 700 megawatts, he said.
Hareli criticized the fact that many requests submitted for projects on the Golan Heights were rejected, except for specific farms that met statutory requirements, such as the 15-megawatt plans for Asania and 120-megawatt plans for Emek Habakha (The Valley of Tears).
“The team did not include sites in Judea and Samaria, which could amount to a total of hundreds of megawatts,” the letter said.
In July 2011, the government approved an 800-megawatt quota for the wind industry, as part of the Energy, Water and National Infrastructure Ministry’s plan to significantly increase renewable energy use by the year 2020.
Gadi wrote, however, that he has received word that the ministry recently submitted a proposal calling for the diversion of 100 of the 800 megawatt quota to serve the photovoltaic (solar power) sector. In early January, Hareli sent Energy Minister Silvan Shalom a letter, urging that his office refrain from boosting the solar energy quota at the expense of wind.
The ministry previously suggested making cuts – at that time 300 megawatts – in the wind sector in November 2012, but this plan did not pan out.
“There is no doubt that this activity violates the underlying aims and programs of the Energy Ministry itself, and we decisively call upon the Energy Ministry to reconsider its intention,” Hareli wrote in the IsraWEA letter.
In response to a query from The Jerusalem Post, the ministry stressed that quotas will not be hurt.
“The decision that was crystallized by the Energy, Water and National Infrastructure Ministry on the issue of a renewable energy mix was designed to meet the governmental goals for the economy, and there is nothing about it that will harm the quotas that were set,” the ministry said. “The ministry is working to integrate a variety of renewable energy sources into the electricity sector, which are necessary toward achieving government goals as set by the [government] decision, which determined, among other things, production targets for electricity generation from renewable energy at 10% by the year 2020.”