Israel Plans To Spearhead Transition From Oil To Alternative Fuels

By Lee Golan June 29, 2011 Comments

Judging by a recent national plan, approved by the government, Israel is planning to become one of the most advanced research and industry centers in the field of oil substitutes for transportation.

Israel is not the only one with an interest in the matter: The country is part of a growing trend that is moving away from the oil industry. Geopolitical changes; the absence of regime stability in the Middle-East; uncertainty about the control and access to oil resources around the world; as well as increasing awareness of environmental changes, have boosted the alternative energy sector onto the forefront of the global agenda.

But Israel, a country surrounded by oil-rich neighbors with whom it has mostly frosty relations, has made reduction in oil dependency a priority.

Nine government officials and 12 leading academics and industry heads have been appointed by Israel’s Prime Minister to research and promote oil substitutes.

In January of this year, the government allocated NIS 1.5 billion ($ 0.44 billion) to the project. And two weeks ago, the Prime Minister’s office said:  “The Government sees research, development and implementation of technologies that reduce global oil use in transport as a national mission that requires harnessing national resources and given top priority, in light of the strategic national interest, the environmental interest and the economic potential inherent in the issue.”

According to Ziva Patir, of Israel’s internationally-renowned company ‘Better Place,’ which establishes nation-wide networks of charging spots and battery swaps for electric vehicles, “a recently published report by the international research center ‘Accenture,’ foresees a one percent increase in oil demand on average per year, from now until 2030 and will reach 105.2 million barrels a day by 2030. This will make the transportation sector the main source of pollution in the world. That is why many countries want to produce fuel substitutes and help reduce continuing carbon emissions.”

She told Israeli site NRG: “The US, France, Germany, China, Japan, Denmark and more, are investing hundreds of millions today in promoting solutions that will help the transition to electric vehicles. There is no doubt that the advantages in a massive transition to electric vehicles are first and foremost pollution and dramatic decrease of pollutants in city centers.”

Israel has therefore decided to implement various strategies to achieve their aims. A priority, the government said, is to reach “cooperation agreements with foreign governments and scientific bodies that deal in the field of oil substitutes.” The government has also promised to make it easier to recruit external private capital needed to encourage research and development and entrepreneurship in oil substitutes.

Photo by Adam Swank

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