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Israel proposing end of electricity production from coal by 2025: sources

Tel Aviv — Israel's energy and water resources minister, Yuval Steinitz, has expressed support for phasing out coal for power generation by 2025, Israeli energy industry sources said Wednesday.

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Steinitz has requested input from Israel's Public Utilities Authority (Electricity) on reducing the use of coal altogether or at most to less than 20% of Israel Electric Corp.'s production by 2025, and only as a back up, the sources said.

The IEC has four coal-operated power plants, two at Hadera and two at Ashkelon, with a total capacity of 4,900 MW. The four units at Hadera are scheduled to be shut down and replaced by natural gas power plants by 2022. The latest proposal calls for the four Ashkelon units to be closed by 2025 at the latest.

The sources said Steinitz has proposed that private power plants that run on natural gas and or on renewables replace the coal power plants, which would be used only as a back-up in an emergency situation.

In the past six months, coal accounted for around 45% of the fuel mix for the state-owned utility, down from 60% in 2016.

Domestic natural gas accounted for over 50%. In addition, all of the large private power plants built in recent years operate on natural gas and now account for around 25% of total production.

In December 2015, Israel's energy and water ministry and the environmental protection ministry issued a directive mandating a 15% reduction in coal use in 2016 and a further 5% cut in 2017.

In the past two years IEC has reduced its coal consumption by over 30% and was expected to drop to around 8 million mt this year. IEC imports coal from Colombia, South Africa and Australia.

--Neal Sandler,

--Edited by Dan Lalor,