Sunday, January 30, 2011
Israel continues its advance towards energy independence
Israel approved a plan to develop technologies to reduce the global use of oil in transportation. Following a meeting of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet, Israel is due to invest approximately $ 407 million over the next decade while seeking to invest millions more from other sources.
According to a January 31 statement from the prime minister’s office, the plan is designed to decrease global dependency on oil and oil-producing countries, such as Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, “which causes instability in the global economy and harms the environment through the emission of pollutants and greenhouse gases.”
Formulated by a team chaired by Israel’s economic council chairman, Eugene Kandel, the plan would encourage investments in the field and assist companies through the regulatory process. Israel would increase is investment in research and development and join various ministries into cooperation. Israel would also seek to increase cooperation between foreign and Israeli government and non-governmental organizations and businesses.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that, "I view this as a national and strategic goal of the State of Israel. Oil addiction has led to the Western world's dependence on the oil countries, and significantly damages the environment. This has significant consequences for Israel as well. We are a small country in size but we are great in science and research. Therefore, the intention is to harness strong research, scientific and technological forces and link them with other bodies so that Israel will be the leader, the catalyst in research in this field."
Israeli Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon, in the framework of whose ministry the lion's share of the plan will be implemented and who is signed onto the plan, along with Prime Minister Netanyahu, said that, "The plan utilizes Israel's scientific and technological capabilities in order to implement a strategic goal on both the national and global levels."
Israeli government and business have invested considerable resources in order to foster national energy independence and stability. The Solar Energy Project at Ben-Gurion University is planning to build the world’s largest solar-energy facility in the Negev Desert on a 1,000 acre site. The project has been preliminarily approved by the Israeli government, but has not yet been budgeted. The plant is planned to initially supply 100 megawatts of power and grow to 500 megawatts, about 5 percent of the country's current generating capacity. When construction is finished in 2012, it should employ some 100 people.
Meanwhile, deep well drilling at the Sea of Galilee, and off-shore in the Mediterranean, have also yielded results. The Rosh HaAyin oil discovery off Israel’s coast promises both petroleum and natural gas.