Israel is gearing up for an energy crisis to hit this summer. A failed deal with Egypt means imports of natural gas come to an end, leaving Israeli power plants without a primary fuel source needed to churn out electricity. As a result, more polluting fuel sources are being considered as part of the government’s plan to meet Israel’s power needs.
According to the protocol approved on Sunday by the Israeli cabinet, plants that are engineered for natural gas will be retro-fitted to utilize coal and oil, fossil fuel products that contribute to poor air quality and increased carbon emissions. In addition, restrictions on wind and solar power will be loosened to garner more power from these green energy sources.
Environment Protection Minister Gilad Erdan noted a variety of energy sources are needed to weather the expected energy drought. “We are looking at using production methods that are more polluting and alternative energy sources like solar.”
Yet even if all goes according to the government plan, Erdan warns, “we may still have electricity outages” when power demands outstrip available supplies. To further reduce the chance of blackouts, a campaign is planned to ask Israelis to do their part by not wasting electricity and turning off non-essential lights and electronics, especially during peak usage times and emergency periods from June to October.
Erdan has also proposed a plan to cut back on the nation’s consumption by cutting off power supplies to Gaza. In a letter to government officials Erdan wrote, “If there are power shortages in Israel this summer, the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip should be halted … It represents 4.5 percent of Israeli production.”
At Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Erdan further demanded that shutting off Gaza’s power be considered first before the Environmental Protection Ministry is asked to agree to more polluting energy choices. “Take care of your own needs first,” he told his fellow ministers. “It’s unreasonable that if there’s an electricity shortage, we’ll cut off the supply to Israelis–but not to Gaza.”