Environment Minister Zandberg recommends suspending developments in country’s wind power generation, citing ‘negligible contribution’ to power production compared to severe toll on environment

Ilana Curiel | Published: 07.18.22,

Israel would reconsider expanding its use of wind power facilities due to the risk turbines pose to populations of migratory birds, the country’s Environmental Protection Ministry said on Monday.Follow

Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg presented her ministry’s white paper on the issue before the Knesset’s Committee on Special National Infrastructure Projects was set to convene to discuss the approval of 11 additional wind turbines in the Golan Height’s Valley of Tears.

חסידה על רקע הטורבינות בעמק הבכא
A bird near a wind farm in the Golan Heights
(Photo: Lior Kislev)

“Advancing clean and renewable energy is important, but so is preserving the open spaces and nature in Israel,” Zandberg said.

“In light of the pace of progression of approved turbines, the high ecological sensitivity in areas where plans were approved or new farms are planned, and lack of information about the efficiency of operation regimes to avoid harm to winged creatures – we must avoid advancing new plans regarding wind turbines at this point and for the next five years, and in this time, assess the cumulative ramifications for winged creatures and the ecological system.”

In a letter penned to Energy Minister Karine Elharrar and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, Zandberg highlighted wind energy’s negligible contribution to Israel’s power production in comparison to its high toll on the ecological system.

תמר זנדברג
Tamar Zandberg
(Photo: Kobi Koankes)

“In order to minimize the percentage of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and prevent continuation of global warming… we must make sure that we’re not harming nature,” she wrote.

“A solution that is meant to solve one problem by creating other problems is not a real solution. Certainly so when the potential of wind energy in Israel is relatively negligible compared to the potential for harm to nature, which is high.”

A report published Sunday found that an avian radar installed at wind farms in northern Israel with the aim of reducing bird strikes failed completely.

חיוויאי על רקע הטורבינות בעמק הבכא
A bird near a wind farm in the Golan Heights
(Photo: Lior Kislev)

According to the findings published by renewable energy firm Enlight and the Nature and Parks Authority, the system — which sets turbines to switch on and off automatically when birds are around — failed to function properly and prevent harm to hundreds of winged creatures.

Israel is home to several wind farms located in the Golan Heights region in its north, with more planned to be built in the coming years, supplying over 80% of the country’s goal of generating 730 megawatts through wind energy.