Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz claims Israel is ‘No. 2 in the world’ in solar power, critics point to Morocco’s goal of 52% renewable energy by 2030 to Israel’s 30%


Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz presented  his 2030 goal for the nation to supply 30% of its power using renewable energy to the Knesset on Wednesday and was asked by Environment Protection Ministry official Gil Proaktor: Why not 100%?  

Head of climate change policy, Proaktor clashed with Steinitz, pointing out that other countries offer more in green energy than the plan the minister presented. 

The Knesset panel was aired via Zoom, and many took up the chance to lambaste Steinitz. “Morocco has the goal of reaching 52% solar energy by 2030,” wrote one user.

Proaktor said Israel should answer all its power needs with renewable energy, citing the examples of Austria and Hawaii, store it for future usage and “to truly regulate the energy market to have real competition.”

His remarks were met with anger by Steinitz, who accused him of being “an irresponsible populist.” He was asked by the committee’s head, Blue and White MK Miki Haimovich, to allow Proaktor to have his say.

Steinitz’s presentation pointed to the reduction of coal usage and the government position that the future of Israel’s energy lies with its offshore gas fields. He cited a study by the International Energy Agency which placed Israel as second in the world in using solar power.

Yosef Abramowitz, one of Israel’s solar power pioneers, told The Jerusalem Post that technological progress in energy storage, among them the Tesla Powerwall, means that now “solar power is half the price of gas, day and night.”

Steinitz said that if Israel were to rely only on solar power, it would need to create storage solutions untested in any other country. “The minister is trying to make storage seem like an untested technology,” Abramowitz said.

Chevron announced on Monday its decision to buy Noble Energy, one of the operators of Israel’s gas fields.

Yuval Arbel of the Zalul Environmental Association explained the risks in relying on offshore gas.

“Should our enemies strike them,” he said, “the country will go back to burning coal.” Israel has agreed to reduce its usage of coal in the 2016 Paris Agreement.

Environmentalists argue that the gas cost presented to the public doesn’t take into account the price of defending the fields, which is done by the navy.