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Monday, February 1, 2010

Israeli minister proposes cooperation with France, Jordan on nuclear power plant


Feb 01, 2010 (BBC Monitoring via COMTEX) --

[Report by Ehud Zion Waldoks: "Israel, France Discuss Joint Nuclear Power Project With Jordan"]

National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau said Sunday he had recently raised the idea of cooperating with Jordan on a nuclear power plant in a recent meeting with French Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo.

For his part, Borloo said he would bring up the notion with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Landau said during a press conference on renewable energy at the ministry on Sunday [31 January].

Jordan has announced that it has begun environmental impact assessments ahead of building a plant near Aqaba in the South.

France is a world leader in nuclear power and has garnered a vast wealth of technical know-how. Eighty per cent of French electricity is produced by nuclear power plants.

Israel has ruled out nuclear power plants until now because of its undeclared nuclear weapons state status. Building a plant would mean that Israel would have to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and throw open its Dimona reactor to international inspections, something it has been reluctant to do.

During the press conference ahead of the Eilat-Eilot International Renewable Energy Conference to be held in mid-February, Landau also floated an idea for a collaborative regional power generation project.

"Egypt could provide land in Sinai, Israel could provide the technology and a US or European entrepreneur could build a solar power plant. We are certainly not lacking in ideas," Landau said.

Landau seemed to indicate that this was a potential initiative rather than one that his ministry was actively pursuing.

Both Landau and ministry chief scientist Shlomo Wald called the goal of 10 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2020 "ambitious, but doable."

Wald said they would rely on proven technologies such as solar-thermal in the initial phase to create installed megawatts at the Ashelim and Timna sites in the Negev. However, he said the ministry was also actively supporting next generation technologies, like concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) and new solar-thermal applications.

Regarding the necessity for another coal-fired power plant in Ashkelon, Landau said it was "irresponsible" to base 70 per cent of the country's energy needs on natural gas. Coal was still the baseline fuel because it was the most reliable in comparison to natural gas and renewables.

Furthermore, he argued, building the new plant would enable the Israel Electric Corporation to take the eight older coal-fired power plants offline for six to seven months to retrofit them with new filters to reduce pollution. He cited a cost of $2b. for this project.

"At the end of the process, the situation will be dramatically better for Ashkelon residents and all of the citizens of Israel," Landau declared.

Source: The Jerusalem Post website, Jerusalem, in English 1 Feb 10


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