The country is investing billions to become a world leader in renewable energy technologies and oil alternatives.
“The global interest in Israel’s energy R&D and technology is out of all proportion to the size of the country,” says Dr. Eli Opper, former Chief Scientist and now chairman of the Eureka High Level Group (HLG). Israel currently holds the chairmanship of Eureka, the European R&D program, of which more than 40 countries are members. According to Dr. Opper, Israel’s technological achievements were an important consideration in the award of the chairmanship. “The world looks for two things in Israel,” he says, “R&D and technology. Our manufacturing and marketing capabilities are of far less interest to it.”
Dr. Opper points out that Israel has an impressive record in developing breakthrough energy technologies. “Israel was a world pioneer in developing water desalination and solar energy technologies,” he says. “Unfortunately, in Spain and California there are solar installations that operate using Israeli technologies, but in Israel itself we have missed the opportunity to implement them, among other things for political reasons.
“Another reason is the small size of the Israeli market. On this point, Israel has a great deal to gain from cooperation with the large European market. Moreover, Israelis have a lot to learn from the Europeans when it comes to environmental protection. This is an area in which Israel considerably lags behind European countries. Up to now, Israelis have preferred to deal with more urgent issues on the agenda.”
This highlights the importance of the conference being organized by the European Friends of Israel in Jerusalem this week, in collaboration with “Globes.” The conference is beng attended by about 500 of the European Parliament’s 736 members. Over the course of the conference, the European parliamentarians will visit Israel’s leading industrial plants. This is no small thing, given that they represent a market of 375 million consumers, who could help promote Israeli technology.
Dr. Opper defines cleantech as comprising three sub-fields: water, environment, and renewable energy. One of the most interesting Israel developments, he says, is in water. “The hot topic in water technologies these days is prevention of leaks from water pipes. There are some very interesting Israeli developments in this area, that could be especially relevant to large European cities with antiquated water infrastructure. In cities like London and Paris, the rate of water loss can be counted in tens of percents.
“The Israeli technology is two-stage. The first stage is locating the leak, using sophisticated control systems. The second is blocking the leak, by introducing special, non-toxic materials.”