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A True Revolution is Needed


30.10.2019

There is no alternative to a dramatic increase in electricity production capacity through solar energy in Israel! ● The quota regime must be cancelled and a competitive electricity market must be enabled, since production costs are lower for solar electricity than for conventional electricity including natural gas.

There is no alternative to a dramatic increase in electricity production capacity through solar energy in Israel! ● The quota regime must be cancelled and a competitive electricity market must be enabled, since production costs are lower for solar electricity than for conventional electricity including natural gas.

 

 

“In countries such as Germany, and even Italy, connecting a system takes no more than 30 work days.  In Israel, the approval is issued 3-6 months after the system is installed on the roof!”

 

 

We devoted our first article relating to electricity production through solar systems to a description of the existing situation in Israel, which led us to the fact that we are at a significant lag compared with what is happening in the world in general, and in the OECD countries in particular.

 

When Dr. Assaf Eilat took the position of Chairman of the Electricity Authority in May 2016, it was a significant turning point that was reflected in reducing the bureaucratic barriers involved in obtaining installation permits, and streamlining the processes of establishing and connecting solar systems. However, there is still much more to do, particularly in the technical realm of inspections and approvals, in order to prevent situations where the productions systems in which millions were invested stand there and don’t begin producing electricity.  That’s absurd!

 

In Europe, in countries like Germany and even Italy, connecting a system takes no more than 30 work days.  In Israel, by way of comparison, the approval is issued 3-6 months after the system is installed and ready on the roof!  The lag in the solar electricity production field that exists in Israel “cries out to heaven”!  The product is of high quality, the know-how exists, the natural conditions are the most appropriate, and with all that, the behavior is still difficult and confusing. Other methods of green electricity production, such as through wind turbines, are not exactly available to us.  And we must add to this the commitment of former president Shimon Peres, ob’m, at the 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen, that Israel would reduce carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2020.  Israel is not meeting that target.  These facts must worry is particularly because 50 percent of air pollution comes from electricity production.  According to official Ministry of Health data, 2,500 deaths are reported each year in Israel as a result of air pollution.  In other words, about half of them, about 1,250 people, die from air pollution caused by electricity production (power stations)!  This number is more than three times as high as the number of people killed each year in traffic accidents.  If we go back to the data for Israel, up to know, only about 4 percent of our electricity comes from the sun, and if consumption continues to grow (about 2 percent per year, which is expected to increase as electric vehicles enter the market en masse), there is no alternative but to prepare for a dramatic increase in electricity production capacity through solar energy!

 

Clearly, continued indifference (low level of investments) in the field could lead to a problematic situation for the Israeli economy in terms of air pollution.  In this context, it is important to remember that electricity production using natural gas reduces pollution but it is not green electricity, and doesn’t really bring Israel close to the target of 10 percent green production that has been set for 2020, or 17 percent by 2030!

 

Is this target realistic in terms of potential?

 

Without getting into the question of economics or scale of costs, since those were already taken into account when the targets were set as a strategic policy of the country, the answer is unequivocally, Yes, in Israel, the conditions and potential exist to generate a revolution in the field of solar electricity production!

 

First, there is unlimited potential in terms of the source of the energy.  The intensity of the sunlight and the number of hours of sunlight enable Israel to produce very large quantities of electricity, and certainly the quantity necessary to reach the target of the green electricity quota! Even from the standpoint of potential area for receptors, the scope of utilization is miniscule compared with the possibilities.  The 4 percent solar production is produced according to the following: land receptors, on an area of 7,000 dunams, produce about 2.75 percent.  Rooftop receptors on about 22,000 rooftops, mostly commercial buildings, produce about 1.25 percent.  Increasing solar electricity production by 4 or 5 times (which is necessary to reach 17 percent), will not encounter a shortage of area, either open areas or rooftops.  Israel has more than half a million commercial rooftops, and about half a million private homes!  In cost-benefit terms, there is a clear preference for producing as much as possible on large rooftops (commercial and industrial), because when production is close to consumption sites, transmission costs are lower and there is less depreciation.  This leads to the conclusion that if the State of Israel decides to meet the target of increasing solar energy production, it has all the conditions necessary for the purpose.  It must place the issue as a national priority and allocate the necessary resources. According to Dani Danan, CEO of “Greentops”, in order to initiate significant steps that will accelerate the development of electricity production, we must act on two levels:

  1. Continue to reduce regulation and privatize inspections and the connection of meters.
  2. Set a long-term horizon of 5-10 years for solar regulations.

 

Of course, Danan adds that the quota regime must be cancelled, and a competitive electiricty market to the end consumer must be enabled.  “The world of quotas belongs to history, to a time when we needed to subsidize and incentivize the solar industry as an infant industry.  Today, the solar market is more sophisticated and the cost of solar electricity production is lower than conventional electricity, including natural gas.  Any quota is an interference in the operation of a free market, and harms the end consumer.  The supply and demand curves meet at the point of  balance, so state intervention creates a distortion in the market and makes its continued development more difficult!

 

If the State defines the issue as a national interest and gives it an important place in its economic agenda, it can lead to a change on the scale of a revolution in reducing air pollution and in concern for the health and lives of the country’s residents.” 

     
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