The Economic Affairs Committee, chaired by MK Michael Biton (Blue and White), convened on Wednesday to receive a status report from the director general of the Ministry of Energy on production of electricity from renewable energy, as required by the Electricity Economy Law.
Committee Chair MK Biton: “The State of Israel wanted to meet the renewable energy target, but the target has not been reached. These were baseless declarations, relative to the actions and determination of this Government. What the State of Israel has done until now is a sham and the new target set after the climate summit is a total sham.
“What is more worrying is the future. The Prime Minister returned from the [Glasgow] climate summit with a dramatic declaration that a 30% renewable energy target had been set, and that means a dramatic ramping up of the production system. The current problem is that by the time a project is approved and piloted, sometimes it’s not worthwhile for the entrepreneur, and that’s why new technology has not been brought. There is supreme importance not only to production, but also to encouraging renewable energy and removing barriers. When there is a detailed work plan, there will be continuity and consistency in the market, and more and more locations will be added. The committee will monitor the issue in further discussions.”
MK Yorai Lahav Hertzanu (Yesh Atid): “If Latvia can reach 40%, then Israel cannot be at 6%. There is a welcome change of direction. I’m glad that now there aren’t just promises. There are also many actions that can bring us to the targets. Israel will reach 10% by the end of the current year, and that is a good thing.”
MK Samy Abu Shahadeh (Joint List): “The way that the market is managed today perpetuates the disparities. All the construction work for renewable energy is done by Arabs, but there is no development of the energy economy within Arab [sector]. There is sun in Rahat too, and electricity can be produced there. Representatives from Arab society should also be invited to such discussions.” Committee Chair MK Biton replied: “You’re absolutely right. We will hold a special discussion on these issues in Arab society, and invite all the [relevant] parties here.”
MK Rabbi Yaakov Margi (Shas): “You can’t pretend that everything started suddenly now. The previous government, and the members of this committee, monitored and worked to ensure that this target would be reached by the end of the year. The 30% target is not ambitious at all, particularly since such a target won’t be reached when people are doing more of the same. That won’t solve the problem. We need new areas of investment to be approved by the government.”
MK Amichai Chikli (Yamina): “There doesn’t seem to be enough focus on research and development. If we can be pioneers in the field of [energy] storage — we can put Israel at the cutting edge. At the end of the day, Israel doesn’t have huge areas as in Arizona, so we have to bring investments in the storage field.”
Ministry of Energy Director General Lior Schillat: “The great challenge of the electricity system as a solar-energy-based economy is land, in a crowded country such as Israel. Planning and installing an overhead power line takes between 8–10 years, and today we already have to start planning the lines for the next decade. That has to be done today. To reach 30% renewable energy, we almost have to double the electricity economy in terms of output in less than a decade. We are leading, together with the Government ministries and our partners, establishment [of facilities] and removal of barriers throughout Israel, including in-depth, focused and significant work with local authorities to install solar panels on public institutions and increasing energy efficiency.
“We are also advancing international collaborations, and the agreement signed last week with Jordan and the UAE for building a solar energy facility is on an unprecedented scale, and [the energy] will be transferred to consumption points in Israel. My goal as ministry director general — and it is for this purpose that I reached the post — is to meet the renewable energy target in 2030. We will only succeed in doing this through cooperation of all relevant parties: The Government, various organizations, entrepreneurs, government companies and more.”
Acting Chairman of the Electricity Authority Yoav Katsavoy said in the meeting that by the end of this year, Israel would reach 10% consumption from renewable energy, and has already exceeded 9%. Katsavoy said, “Economic regulation has undergone many improvements for the actors, and we are trying to accelerate [creation of] standards for storage facilities on a scale that will provide a capacity of 32,000 MWh.”