Rotenberg Power Station in Ashkelon (Photo: Yossi Leon, Electric Company)
Coal, which is still used to produce about 20% of Israel's energy consumption, burned the electric company twice: the first time in the State Comptroller's report that revealed a slow and insufficiently efficient transition of the power plants from production based on coal to production based on natural gas - and a few days later, with the publication The new electricity rates, where the Electricity Authority cites the excessive reliance on electricity generation from coal (which, regardless of costs, is also more polluting) as a central factor in the rate hike.
Now comes a response, even if not directly, from the electric company: according to the company, the conversion project to natural gas started in unit number 1 at the Rotenberg power plant.
This is a conversion, the first of its kind, of a coal-fired unit that switches to working with natural gas.
Some of the company's explanations seem to refer almost directly to the claims of procrastination in transit.
According to the electric company, the conversion also requires a change in the work methods that until now were suitable for the coal era and are not suitable for working with natural gas.
For example, it was necessary to adapt the natural gas burners to the existing combustion system, changes in the control systems, adjusting the air systems, adding pipes and valves, purchasing dedicated equipment, adapting existing equipment and devices and changing work procedures in the field of safety.
The date of putting the units into operation was postponed in relation to the original Luz, mainly due to the corona epidemic that affected the entire economy in Israel and the world, the management of a legal proceeding that delayed the receipt of the permit to lay a low-pressure natural gas pipeline, as well as the Russia-Ukraine war that significantly damaged the availability of the supply chain for the main equipment, as well as, Many adjustments to the equipment that has already arrived from the supplier.
Later in its announcement, the electric company clarified: as the government stipulated in July 2018, when the reform in the electricity sector was adopted, it was decided that the coal-fired units 1-4 at Orot Rabin will remain as a backup only, in case of an emergency.
As mentioned, the electric company is doing everything possible to promote the project so that unit 1 in Rotenberg is expected to be operated for the first time with natural gas during the second quarter of this year.
In addition, in an unprecedented step, the company's board of directors decided ad hoc, to approve the conversion of the rest of the units, even before receiving approval from the regulators, in order to meet the goal of the government's decision that at the end of 2025, the electric company will produce electricity with natural gas only.
Meir Spiegler, CEO of the Electric Company (Photo: Reuven Castro)
Meir Spiegler, CEO of the Electric Company
: "At the beginning of the 21st century, the Electric Company led the revolution in the production of electricity using gas instead of coal for the benefit of improving the quality of life and the environment.
Our commitment to end the Merkava deed leads to the acceleration of the conversion work in the remaining production units that still consume coal, with the intention of being completed in 2025.
At the same time, we dealt with a dramatic reduction of the emissions from the use of coal by installing world-class advanced exhausters in those stations that have not yet been converted to work with natural gas. This is a complex project which is managed and supervised by the engineers of the Electric Company and its professional employees who are familiar with the material and have valuable accumulated experience".