Despite Japan, IEC chairman urges nuclear power

Yiftach Ron-Tal: In a decade we'll have an advanced nuclear reactor in the northern Negev.

"Israel should build a nuclear power station, and it must be made to be safe. Hasty decisions should not be made because of what is happening in Japan," said Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) (TASE: ELEC.B22) chairman Yiftach Ron-Tal at the Negev Conference in Eilat. "We should move forward and learn. I think that in a decade we'll have an advanced nuclear reactor in the northern Negev.

The conference panel is about turning Eilat into Israel's southern gateway. Asked whether Israel would intervene in Jordan's plans to build a nuclear power station near Aqaba, along the Syria-African Rift Valley, especially after Friday's earthquake and tsunami in Japan severely damaged nuclear power stations, Ron-Tal replied, "What happened in Japan is a global disaster. As for the Jordanian power station, we're monitoring it. This is a matter for the government. Appropriate geo-seismological studies are being conducted to find the best location for such a power station, especially with regard to the Syria-Africa Rift Valley. Israel is monitoring the issue, but there is no partnership by Israel. Current reactors are much safer than the reactors in Japan, which are very old."

Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevy said, "Our attitude toward Eilat is a city of primary strategic importance. This is the city that serves as Israel's southern gateway. We want to anchor this in three ways. The first anchor is the Southern Gateway Plan, which is a proper and important infrastructure plan. The second anchor is to turn Eilat into a university town of science and research. The third anchor is to brand Eilat as an international sports city, and we're on the right road for this. We must deal with the obstacles to progress in the form of illegal infiltrators who pour en masse into Israel and Eilat."

Economic Models CEO Dr. Yaakov Sheinin formulated the Southern Gateway Plan, which takes a strategic view of Eilat over the next 20 years. The plan calls for moving the Eilat Port and Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company terminal to the northern part of the town, moving the town's international airport to Timna, and building a cargo railway line to central Israel. The vacated current port and terminal will be rezoned for hotels. The cost of the plan has previously been estimated at $2.5 billion.

Sheinan said that the plan would turn Eilat in a gateway to Africa, Asia, and Europe. Eilat would become a city of 150,000 residents and 35,000 hotel rooms.

Ron-Tal added, "Israel has become a natural gas power, and this revolution gives us energy independence for the generation of electricity and to do it more cleanly and cheaply. Our region is undergoing another revolution, a political revolution that is making the region unstable. It tells us - become independent. The third revolution underway here is the environmental revolution reflected in the wish of society worldwide in the past decade to create a cleaner, greener and cooler planet.

Together, these three revolutions enable us to generate cleaner energy in Israel. We will also exploit the sun as a resource for clean energy. The recent decision to generate 10% of energy from renewable sources - i.e. photovoltaic energy - in ten years time will definitely give the Negev a central role. I believe that most solar energy will generated in the Negev, and this is a challenge. I believe that the government set the policy and program, and that IEC should implement it. The main problem at the moment is transmission - getting electricity from the south via a single unstable power line. We must build power lines. We recently inaugurated the Bactura project, and there will be many more. To me, this isn't a vision, but a reality. There will be a lot of companies generating solar energy here, and as they generate, we'll build power lines.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 15, 2011

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2011

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