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Israel green lights hundreds of wind turbines in northern Israel

Plans to construct hundreds of wind turbines in northern Israel were granted government approval on Wednesday, boosting renewable energy production while answering security needs.

The green light was given after an agreement was reached between the Energy Ministry, Defense Ministry, Finance Ministry and the Electricity Authority. Under the agreement, the ministries will invest NIS 250 million ($72.4m.) in developing technologies to ensure that the construction of the wind turbine farms will not impact security considerations.

The agreement will enable the development of several projects in northern Israel, the ministries said, which are currently in the project planning phase and will be implemented in the coming years.

“The Ministry of Defense sees great importance in promoting renewable energy projects,” said Defense Ministry director-general Maj. Gen. (ret.) Udi Adam. “From an enabling point of view, we invested significant resources in advancing the agreement and together with the IDF, we agreed to take calculated risks to enable it to be implemented.”

The technological development aspect of the agreement, Adam said, “creates the right balance between security needs and energy and environmental protection needs.”

Israel targeted the conversion of 10% of the country’s electricity supply to renewable energies by 2020, and is aiming for a cumulative reduction of 17% by 2030.

In November, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz vowed that Israel will move into a coal-free era of power production by the end of 2025, five years earlier than originally targeted. Electricity production from coal has been halved since 2015, according to the Energy Ministry, as Israel increasingly relies on its domestic supply of natural gas.

“The Ministry of Energy is working in every way to promote renewable energies in Israel,” said Energy Ministry director-general Udi Adiri.
“Promoting renewable energy requires facing many challenges, including security, economic and planning challenges. The agreement that has been signed removes one of the major difficulties facing this sector from the table.”

Disagreements between defense officials and wind farm developers have not been limited to Israel, due to possible interference caused by turbines to radar capabilities, air-force operations, communications and other military needs. Israel’s latest project will likely draw opposition from local environmental groups, arguing that wind farms can harm birds and other wildlife.