Ministry: Israel must approve 54 policy measures to reach 2030 renewable energy goal

Energy Ministry director urges next government to make renewables a ‘national priority’; plans advanced for renewable energy storage, agro-voltaics

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter

Solar panels. (lovelyday12, iStock at Getty Images)
Solar panels. (lovelyday12, iStock at Getty Images)

The next government will have to approve 54 policy measures for Israel to reach its goal of generating 30 percent of its energy from renewable sources by the end of the decade, the Energy Ministry’s director-general told an energy and business conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.

The government will also need to signal that renewable energy was a “national priority,” Lior Shilat said.

Shilat noted the transition to renewables would be “gradual” and that fossil fuels such as oil and gas would still be in use 25 years from now, though in smaller quantities.

The 30% renewables goal was set by the government in October 2020, with interim targets of 20% by 2025 and 10% by 2020.

The 10% goal has yet to be met, however, with some 8.7% of Israel’s current energy use deriving from renewables.

Environmental activists accuse the Energy Ministry of focusing on natural gas in a bid to make as much money as possible from offshore Israeli fields before use of the fossil fuel becomes politically unacceptable. They also point to the slow pace of regulatory change and bureaucratic approvals.

The ministry has noted natural gas pollutes less than coal or oil and said it is being used as part of the transition to renewables.

Also Tuesday, the National Planning and Building Council held a special session with the Energy Ministry’s planning department on proposed zoning plans for various parts of renewable energy and electricity generation.

The plans will be issued for comment from the public and district planning committees.

If approved, the NIS 17 million (nearly $5 million) plan will see the creation of more than 130 sites countrywide to test different agro-voltaic systems in a variety of conditions on different crops.

The dual-use systems can help with crop cultivation while also generating power. The Energy Ministry, which is working together with the Agriculture Ministry, estimates that the sites will cover a total of 2,000 dunams (494 acres).

Also, a national zoning plan for energy storage facilities will seek to specify the locations and rules for approving storage facilities of different sizes, using a variety of technologies.

Solar energy storage batteries erected by Nofar Energy at Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak in southern Israel. (Nofar Energy)

Storage is an essential component of any system using renewable energy, providing power when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine.

A separate plan for an 800-megawatt renewable energy storage center in the Gilboa industrial park in northern Israel’s Jezreel Valley will also be issued for comment. If approved, it will be the first national storage center of its kind in Israel.

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