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Energy Forum 37: Energy security in Israel

Researchers
Prof. Gershon Grossman , Yigal Evron
Cite As:
Grossman Gershon , Evron Yigal . Energy Forum 37: Energy security in Israel Haifa Israel: Samuel Neaman Institute, 2016. https://www.neaman.org.il/EN/EF37-Energy-security-in-Israel

In Israel, as in many western countries, there is an understanding that national security largely depends on the proper functioning of the national infrastructure, including a stable supply of various forms of energy. Among those the electric power supply is particularly sensitive, for an event of non-supply due to malfunction, sabotage, or any other reason, may cause the collapse of many facilities, civilian and military, which depend on it. A temporary supply cut-off of other forms of energy, such as fuels for transportation or industry, is less critical to the economy so long as it remains brief, but even in such cases a responsible country must maintain sufficient reserves and adequate supply methods, that include redundancy.

 

There are four important measures for energetic security – availability, accessibility, affordability, and sustainability. A country should coordinate these measures. There are several sources for electricity generation, but one must examine the system as a whole including transportation, industry, and civilian use, and address the question of how they are all interrelated. Among the factors affecting a systemic risk are: how many suppliers are there and how varied they are, in what ways people can be mobilized, what the regulatory system is, and very important is also how politically stable the country is.

 

There is a number of potential threats to energy security, especially on the electrical system. Those can be divided into several main categories: Hostilities (rocket/missile attacks, sabotage), natural disasters, and cyberattacks. The first threat is more prominent in Israel than in other western countries; we have already experienced that, and hence it should be addressed accordingly. That natural disasters in Israel are scarce and mild relative to other developed countries is precisely the reason for their being a significant threat, due to the lower readiness level. Regarding cyberattacks – this is a new threat in the entire world, and everyone is trying to learn how to cope with it.

 

There are several definitions for energy security. The International Energy Agency (IEA) defines it as the uninterrupted availability of energy sources at an affordable price for all strata of the population. Most governments are concerned with the short-term energy security. However, long-term energy security requires long-term investments in accordance with the expected future economic developments and environmental needs. One cannot discuss long-term energy security without addressing sustainability. Sustainability is the ability to supply our needs in the long run while considering the environmental implications, that is, take care not only for ourselves today but also for our successors, by leaving behind enough resources and not just waste.

 

In the Forum discussions it became clear that Israel’s readiness to deal with energy supply risks is not complete, but the situation is probably not bad compared to other western countries. However, unlike most of the western world, we have a large collection of threats.  The Israel Electric Company (IEC) has prepared well to cope with earthquakes. Preparedness for other natural disasters, such as snow, floods, and the like, is limited in part by accessibility issues which relate to the readiness level of local authorities, as we have seen in recent winters; but also, the public expectations in this regard are unreasonable. There is a certain readiness for rocket and cyberattacks, but the potential is not fully implemented. Although the IEC is preparing, the electric sector as a whole does not as much, especially in an era where part of the production is private. The military system dependence on civilian power supply is critical, and may prove problematic in emergency situations. The Israeli economy dependence on electricity is growing, with the electrification of the railway and the existing light rail and those under construction.

 

Energy security crucially depends on the existence and operation of a system-wide approach regarding the various elements of the energy infrastructure (the electric system, fuel supply for transportation and the industry, storage, transmission and distribution). Such an approach does not exist in Israel today, and should be formulated promptly.

 

Recommendations:

1.  It is required to maintain the diversity of energy sources and the diversity of energy production facilities, planned properly, taking into account (without compromising) social, economic, and environmental aspects.

2.  A strategic storage of energy sources is required for different kinds of fuels, including proper supply capabilities and adequate redundancy. In addition, it is crucial to backup natural gas supply (additional production and delivery facilities are required).

3.  Adequate redundancy and reserves are also required for the national electricity transmission and production systems.

4.  It is recommended to develop the power grid in the direction of a smart grid: bidirectional from end to end, including the low voltage consumers.

5.  It is recommended to promote the implementation of independent micro-grids, linked to each other.  Such a system would enable a flexible and dynamic production system, scattered regionally, allowing local control based on demand, and diverse means of energy production.

6.  It is recommended to develop local renewable energy sources in a controlled manner. Today there is too much emphasis on economic aspects, but when it comes to security – the economics are only one component. Renewable energy sources – solar and wind – add robustness to the electricity production system which may help cope with security risks, and the inherent decentralization of renewable energy facilities greatly reduces the risk of systemic damage.

7.  It is recommended to continue to incorporate pumped storage facilities in the electric grid. Such facilities are very advantageous, as a natural complement for renewable energy technology as well as being naturally protected by being buried deep within the mountain and not exposed to kinetic assaults.

8.  It is required to expand the activities towards energy efficiency (see previous energy forum report: http://www.neaman.org.il/forum-energy-36). It is recommended to incentivize and urge the use of public transportation and stop encouraging travel by automobiles. It is recommended to encourage and accelerate energy conserving construction.

9.  It is recommended to implement a system for real-time demand-side management. This will contribute to the effectiveness of electricity production by flattening the demand curve, as well as to coping with emergencies not by load shedding but by demand management.

10.  It is necessary to exercise means of dealing with various extreme situations (special situations) at the level of the entire electric supply system: Control, production, transmission and distribution.  Consumer involvement is important. The ultimate goal should be a situation where the consumers could function independently in a minimal fashion until power is restored.

11.  Above all – a suitable management system is required, with one regulation by the Government. This regulation must build all the required tools, under proper legislation, for the Government to take over the management of the electric power system in an emergency.

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