Study: Israel must take energy conservation steps

(JTA) — Israel must make energy efficiency a priority to avoid potential disruptions in its power supply, a new study said.

Facing an acute shortage of energy sources to meet surging demand for electricity, Israel must take significant conservation measures and invest in renewable energies, according to the study produced by the RAND Corp.

"The single most important factor to having a successful energy policy is for Israel to slow the growth in demand for electricity and use its energy more efficiently,” said Steven Popper, the study’s lead author, told JTA. "The higher the demand for electricity, the fewer choices you have, and the more likely it is that you’ll pay some pretty severe penalties — higher costs, more pollution, a coastline filled with power plants, or Israel might be much more vulnerability to supply cutoffs."

The RAND study, commissioned by the Nazarian family of Los Angeles, set out to analyze the risks and benefits of increasing Israel’s reliance on natural gas. Israel opened its first natural gas field off the coast of Ashkelon a few years ago, and the discovery of a larger natural gas field last year off the coast of Haifa has raised hopes that Israel will be able to tap a local source to supply its energy needs.

Without steps to reduce energy consumption, however, even the new resources will not be enough to meet Israel’s long-term energy needs, the study found.

Israel’s main source of energy is imported coal, which powers up to 70 percent of the country. Israel also gets natural gas from Egypt via a pipeline.

Renewable sources of energy constitute a fraction of 1 percent of Israel’s energy supply. Overall, Israel imports 85 percent of its power supply.

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