Long considered leaders of R&D and Clean Technology, particularly in the fields of water desalination and solar energy technology, Israel has now set firm sights on leading the shift away from oil dependence. Between now and 2020, the tiny country intends to spend NIS 14 billion (US $ 3.82 billion) to help innovators and researchers test viable alternatives to oil. And while often slow to implement their own technology, cooperation with Europe may change that.
Two crucial conferences will help foster a greater technological exchange between Europe and Israel – the chair of Eureka High Level Group (HLG), Europe’s R&D program with which 40 countries are involved.
The first, where 500 European parliamentarians are expected to make an appearance, is the European Friends of Israel in Jerusalem this week. In addition to the conference, attendees will visit Israel’s leading industrial plants.
According to Globes, this is significant because the plants represent “a market of 375 million consumers, who could help promote Israeli technology.”
The second is the Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Conference considered so important on the international renewable energy scene that the European Commission included it in their ECO4B enterprise network. This year, 2,000 businessmen and women, researchers, government representatives, and investors will attend.
European Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard, Paolo Romani (leading a large Italian delegation and Italy’s Economic Development Minister), Karl-Josef Kuhn, principle engineer of Siemens AG, and head of Siemens Corporate Technology E-Ca,; and Dr. Gabriel Marquette, Director of European Affairs at Schlumberger Research are among some of the heavyweights, Globes reports.
Removing political roadblocks and rising golden innovations will be among the conference foci.
Meanwhile, Israel has finalized a solid plan for the next several years. In addition to the Arava Renewable Energy Technology Center, the government will pour enormous sums into oil substitutes in order to slip out from underneath OPEC’s oppressive monopoly.
Led by Prof. Eugene Kandel, on January 30, 2011 the National Economic Council approved a national plan for developing alternatives. It includes investing nearly a quarter of the committed $3.82 billion during the first five years and the remaining money the following five years.
This money will be used to help roughly 100 startup companies and research institutions, as well as nourish existing businesses or “incubators.” Some of the money will be used to build pilot installations, while the rest will be allocated to testing and implementation.
The Prime Minister will also award an annual prize of NIS 1.5 million to innovators that develop oil alternatives in order to encourage would-be inventors to put forth their clever ideas.
All of these steps demonstrate that Israel is taking oil substitutes very seriously, which in turn should boost confidence among consumers and developers. Nor does the plan involve operating in a vacuum. Ideas will be sought from other high-tech producing countries that have an equal stake in reduced oil dependence, such as China and India.
Dr. Opper, chairman of Eureka High Level Group and a member of the steering committee that formulated the national plan, believes that its ambitious goal is attainable, according to Globes.
“If Israel helps to solve the world’s dependence on oil, it will turn out to have been a very important decision,” he said.
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