Israel Misses 2020 Renewable Energy Goal, by a Very Long Way

The 10-percent target of renewable energy fell short, with Israel producing only 5.8 percent of its energy from wind and sun last year

Israel Fisher
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Solar panels in Petah Tikva
Solar panels in Petah TikvaCredit: Tomer Appelbaum
Israel Fisher

Israel’s government had decided that 30 percent of energy production would be from renewable sources by 2030. The Energy Ministry said that by the end of 2020, Israel would produce some 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources.

And yet, TheMarker has data showing that Israel finished 2020 very far from that goal, which may make it even harder to reach its 2030 target.

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Only 5.85 percent of Israel’s energy production was from renewable sources last year - meaning wind and sun.

This is slightly higher than the 4.7-percent figure for 2019.

The Energy Ministry and Electricity Authority acknowledge the missed goal, but say that the coronavirus pandemic delayed the installation of solar panels on roofs, agricultural buildings and other locations.

Even when measuring Israel’s production potential versus consumption, the figure works out only to 7 percent.

During cloudy winter months and inclement weather, solar energy production is not at full capacity.

Renewable energy accounted for only 3.1 percent of Israel’s electricity production in January 2020, but was 9 percemt in April – a month with sunny weather but low electricity consumption because air conditioning is not needed, and because many factories were closed for the Passover holiday and the coronavirus lockdown.

In August, a sunny month with relatively high electricity use due to the heat, renewable energy accounted for 6 percent of all production.

Industry sources said that this means Israel will struggle to meet its goal for 2030.

The new government company responsible for managing Israel’s electricity grid, which is currently handling statistics and planning but not yet electricity production management, will face challenges, said the sources.

The new company, which will take responsibility for electricity production over the summer, is supposed to prioritize renewable energy sources, but it won’t be able to do that if Israel lacks the necessary solar panels.

A senior energy sector source said that the 30-percent goal would be very challenging but still possible.

“Until now we picked the low-hanging fruit. Now we’ll have to reach higher,” said the source.

Israel will reach the 10-percent goal for certain in 2021, the source said.

Israel’s Energy Ministry and Electricity Authority said in response that that the country is in the process of installing renewable energy production facilities that would nearly double the current 7-percent production potential.

More production capacity had been scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020 but the pandemic delayed work, the authorities said.

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