Israel at the center of alternative energy development
No matter what your politics, there was nothing to feel conflicted about in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech at the recent 2009 President’s Conference where he sketched out an inspiring plan to develop a feasible, cost effective alternative to fossil fuels within 10 years.
Israel is not unique of course in recognizing that the world cannot depend on oil forever. It’s clearly a threat to the environment, to the economies of those countries that import oil (that would be most of the world), and more critically global security.
Israel has an even more urgent agenda. We’re a small country and the supply of oil can – and has – been used against us. When I was growing up in the U.S., I remember the post-Yom Kippur War oil crisis. At the time, I was not really aware of what was happening on the political stage, but the lines around the block at gas stations made me want to blame someone. For many, the punching bag then (as too often now) was Israel.
Fortunately, Israel is perhaps ideally situated to develop an alternative energy solution. We are already at the cusp of innovation in many related areas – from agro-tech, nanotechnology and solar energy to battery technologies and renewable energies (take a look at this page from the main Israel21c website for Israeli companies involved in social energy) .
We also have more Nobel Prize winners and more venture capital money per capita than any other country. We’re already in bed with Shai Agassi’s A Better Place initiative to deploy electric cars and charging stations around the country within the next few years.
Netanyahu says he aims to establish “a national commission comprised of scientists, manufacturers, engineers, businesspeople and government officials.”
Can we do it? That’s another story. Rhetoric doesn’t always translate into action. Budgets get slashed. Bureaucrats squabble.
But the stakes are too high here. As Netanyahu put it succinctly: “We have the brains, but we also have the will.”