Forget About Renewable Energy in Israel, Infrastructure Ministry Says

Ministry D-G: Surveys prove consumers will pay more for renewable energy but treasury blocking efforts.

We can forget about renewable energy in Israel, according to National Infrastructure Ministry Director General Hezi Kugler.

Speaking Wednesday before the annual convention of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in Israel, Kugler said that the treasury recently told National Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer that the renewable energy program has not been included in the in the national economic stimulus plan.

At this stage, renewable energy is a luxury: the stimulous plan seeks effective programs that can generate positive income, not consume subsidies, Kugler explained.

The stimulus plan has in effect entirely ignored the energy industry, and is making every effort to block a bill that would make the Negev and Arava priority areas for development of renewable energy, Kugler said. Treasury representatives were absent from the conference.

He accused the minister of "not seeing the broader picture".

"It is proposing that we stop and calculate the economic viability of renewable energy, while surveys elsewhere in the world have already proven that consumers are willing to pay more for renewable energy," he said. "The treasury is making every effort to block the bill from coming to vote because they know that there isn't a single minister that won't vote in favor."

On the issue of natural gas, Kugler said Israel will have no choice but to buy because Electric Corporation consumption keeps growing, and because it is impossible to ignore the fact that prices have gone up.

"There's not an actual shortage of gas, there is a question of price" Kugler said.

He added there has been no reckoning of the true price of gas, and there will be no agreement at the current rate that gas is being sold, because no supplier is going to sell gas at a loss or a minimum profit.

"Obviously we are going to have to pay a price," he said. "Desalination was expensive too, and then they started too late, when the shortages started. No other sources of gas will be available until 2014, when the gas fields opposite Gaza are slated to come into operation. And what will happen until then? The Electric Corporation thinks it will be able to use diesel fuel, and I tell them they won't be allowed to."