Israel is now top among OECD countries and second in the entire world in terms of solar energy production, according to the International Energy Agency.
Israel is now top among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development members and second in the entire world in terms of solar energy production, a new report by the International Energy Agency has determined.
The report found that 8.7% of Israel’s overall electricity is now produced by solar energy –second in the world behind Honduras (14.8%), and ahead of Germany (8.6%), Chile (8.5%), Australia and Greece (8.1%).
The figures reflect the Energy Ministry’s ambitious 80 billion shekel ($22.8 billion) plan, unveiled in early June, to increase the use of solar power over the coming decade, as Israel’s population and energy demands are set to surge.
Though awash with sunlight, at the end of 2019 Israel was producing just 5% of its electricity from solar energy. About 64% came from natural gas and the rest from coal.
Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said the new target is to outpace rising demand and have solar power production grow to 30% by 2030, or about 16,000 megawatts.
The Energy Ministry aims to completely phase out coal by 2026.
It was also the first time Israel cracked the top 20 countries in the world in terms of its potential to install and exploit solar PV (photovoltaic) panels. According to the report, the cost of installing these panels is expected to drop significantly in the coming years.
“When I entered office in 2015, Israel was among the worst-rated countries in terms of solar energy production, and many claimed that we have no chance of hitting the targets we set for ourselves. I’m extremely proud that within just a few years we’ve climbed to first place in terms of solar energy production – among all OECD countries – and second place in the entire world,” said Steinitz.
He added: “About one month ago I announced a new target to outpace rising demand and have solar power production grow to 30% within 10 years. What this means is that at peak afternoon hours, 100% of Israel’s electricity will be generated by the sun, some of which we will be able to store for the night hours. This target will take us to first place in solar energy production in the whole world.”
According to Steinitz, this ambitious goal wasn’t determined casually.
For an entire year, officials from the Israel Public Utility Authority for Electricity and the Energy Ministry sat down and thoroughly explored the following questions: Is the target feasible from a technological standpoint? What is the necessary scope of [energy] accumulation? What is the financial cost and can it be done without raising the price of electricity? What are the environmental benefits? Is enough land available to accomplish the mission? What changes need to be made to the national conduction network?
“Only after a year of research and consultations with the Finance Ministry, the Environmental Protection Ministry, the Israel Electric Corporation, and with international bodies did we determine this very challenging, but attainable, target,” said Steinitz.