Israel is advancing plans for the construction of an underwater electricity cable project to meet growing energy needs in the center and north of the country and to link the country’s electricity network to power grids in Europe and countries in the Gulf region.
The national planning and building council on Tuesday decided to commence with the planning and construction of the proposed 150-kilometer (93-mile) subsea electricity cable that will run along Israel’s Mediterranean coast from Ashkelon in the south to Haifa in the north, the Energy Ministry said in a statement. The underwater power cable will transmit electricity mainly generated from renewable solar energy fields in Israel’s south to areas of demand in cities in the center and the north.
According to the subsea cable project plan, the possibility of connecting Israel’s electricity network to power grids in Europe via Cyprus and Greece will be advanced, as well as the option of connecting to Gulf countries through Jordan and Egypt, the ministry said.
Connecting the underwater cable to regional countries such as Egypt would open the possibility to have a backup for the local grid in case of power shortages and allow for exports of green electricity produced in Israel, the ministry said.
The project is part of a broader vision by Energy and Infrastructure Minister Israel Katz to turn Israel into an energy power and an energy bridge connecting East and West while strengthening its international status.
“I welcome the first step on the way to establishing an undersea electricity cable along Israel’s coast – a groundbreaking cross-border project that will move the Israeli electricity grid forward and help Israel become an energy power,” Katz said. “The cable is a significant part of the national plan for energy and infrastructure that I will present in the coming weeks, to improve the reliability of the electricity system, accelerate the deployment of renewable energies, and link Israel’s electricity grid to Europe, Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf states — a step that will contribute to regional stability.”
Recent heatwaves leading to power outages in the country as the country’s electricity grid struggles to meet sweltering demand have made energy security and independence even more pressing. At the beginning of June, heatwave-related power cuts affected some 260,000 Israelis as temperatures rose above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), while high winds whipped up hundreds of fires across the country, closing roads and forcing some evacuations.
Earlier in June, the planning and building council approved a proposal to allocate 40,000 more dunams (10,000 acres) of land in open areas for solar power facilities. The decision fell short of the 69,000 dunams the Energy Ministry, which submitted the request, had sought. That’s as Israel has set itself a target to generate 30 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. Most of that will be solar energy. But by the end of last year, the state was barely scraping 10%, a goal it should have reached by 2020.
The plan for the underwater electricity cable comes after Katz in June paid a visit to France where he toured the IFA-2 subsea electrical interconnector running beneath the English Channel between France and the United Kingdom.
Separately, state-owned energy group EAPC (Europe Asia Pipeline Co.) announced last month that it has reached an agreement with the Israeli government to build a 254-kilometer (158-mile) fiber optic cable between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea as part of a national project to turn Israel into a communications hub and corridor for data transmission in the Middle East, connecting Europe to the Gulf states and Asia. The fiber optic infrastructure will be built along EAPC’s oil pipeline between the Mediterranean port of Ashkelon and the Red Sea port of Eilat.
As part of the project, EAPC will build at its facilities in Ashkelon and Eilat, two landing stations to connect to incoming subsea cables from Europe, Asia and the Middle East. EAPC will also install a connection for communication providers in Jordan, at the Wadi Araba border crossing, known as the Yitzhak Rabin terminal on the Israeli side.