Israeli Minister Ben-Eliezer addressing the Eilat energy conference this morning. (photo by Daniel Cherrin).
Israel and Egypt are discussing a possible collaborative solar energy project in the Sinai desert, Israel’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Binyamin Ben-Eliezer announced this morning at the third annual Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Conference.
According to Ben-Eliezer, he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the issue with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on a recent visit to Egypt. According to the plan, Israel would supply the technology, with Egypt supplying the land required for the project. The electricity produced from the project would power both states, with excess energy being sold to other countries. President Mubarak reportedly expressed his interest in the idea, and agreed to explore the issue.
If carried out, the project could go a long way toward solving one of the major obstacles to the development of renewable energy in Israel: land. Much of the discussion this week at the 3-day conference has revolved around the need to develop renewable energy projects, especially solar energy, that utilize limited land resources in an efficient manner.
Ben-Eliezer went on to say that he sees Israel’s Negev and Arava regions developing into a “Silicon Valley” of solar and renewable energy technologies over the coming decade. He also proposed declaring the entire area a national priority zone for the renewable energy industry, a status which would confer a variety of benefits on companies active in the region. “It breaks my heart when I see these companies setting up projects abroad, but not here in Israel,” he said.
He added that, in his meetings with representatives of foreign governments and businesses, there is no place where the subject of Israeli renewable energy technology is not on the agenda, and that investors around the world are eager to invest in Israeli water and renewable energy companies.
He concluded by telling the conference, “I want you to know that my office is always at your service,” and that “the Prime Minister is also open to these issues.”
For more news on Israel, see the Jerusalem Post.